No. 19 Florida loses Driskel, beats Tennessee

BY foxsports • September 21, 2013

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The second Jeff Driskel started waving for help, Florida coach Will Muschamp knew it was bad. 

It turned out to be the worst-case scenario.

Driskel
broke his lower right leg Saturday in the first quarter of the
19th-ranked Gators' 31-17 victory over Tennessee, a season-ending injury
that thrust seldom-used backup Tyler Murphy onto the field for the most
significant action of his four-year career.

Murphy responded better than anyone could have realistically expected.

He
had a 52-yard touchdown throw to Solomon Patton, a swing pass that went
the distance, and made several huge plays with his legs as Florida
(2-1, 1-0 SEC) won its ninth consecutive game in the series.

Driskel,
who was playing with a brace on his sprained left knee, broke his right
leg while throwing an interception in the first quarter. Devaun
Swafford picked off the pass and returned it 62 yards for a touchdown
and a 7-0 lead. Marlon Walls pulled Driskel to the ground and landed on
his leg as he released the ball.

Driskel
tried to get up, but then dropped back to the turf and called for
trainers. He limped off the field a few minutes later, got checked on
the sideline and then used crutches to get to the locker room.

"I
hurt for him and I hurt for us right now," Muschamp said. "It's going
to hurt us. He's a guy that's won a lot of ballgames here, and it's
disappointing for him right now."

It was a solid debut for Murphy, a junior whose only pass attempt came on a 2-point attempt two weeks ago.

"It
was always in the back of my mind that I might never play," Murphy
said. "I just kept working hard and kept fighting and kept faith in
myself and kept praying for an opportunity. It wasn't the way I wanted
it, but an opportunity is an opportunity."

Murphy's 7-yard TD scamper in the fourth quarter made it 31-10 and sent fans scrambling for the exits.

The
Volunteers (2-2, 0-1) had hoped to rebound from an embarrassing, 59-14
loss at No. 2 Oregon a week ago. Instead, Tennessee and first-year coach
Butch Jones left Gainesville with another double-digit setback.

Jones'
strangest decision might have been to bench Justin Worley and give
redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman his first career start on the road and
in front of 90,000.

Peterman, who grew up
in nearby Jacksonville, had three turnovers in a 17-minute span in the
first half and was benched at the break. He completed 4 of 11 passes for
5 yards, with two interceptions and a fumble.

"To beat a team at home, you can't turn the football over," Jones said. "Way too many turnovers."

Worley wasn't a whole lot better against a Florida defense which has been mostly dominant through three games.

Worley, who started the first three games, finished 10 of 23 for 149 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.

"Losing
is never accepted or tolerated at Tennessee," Jones said. "But I'm
proud of our team. They showed resiliency. They didn't quit. They gave
us an opportunity to be in the game at the end of the game. We have to
keep getting better. We have to keep things in perspective as we
continue to build this football program. We took some small steps, but
we have a long way to go."

Where Florida goes from here will largely depend on Murphy.

He completed 8 of 14 passes for 134 yards. He ran 10 times for 84 yards.

"He didn't just manage our team," Muschamp said. "He produced in critical situations."

Murphy
made a few mistakes, but only one costly one. He wasn't looking and
took a snap off his facemask, a botched play that resulted in a fumble.

That was one of nine turnovers on the day.

The
Volunteers had six -- four in the first half. Peterman had three, and
Raijon Neal fumbled on the team's second play. Dante Fowler Jr. wrecked
the exchange, his first of several big plays.

Florida
had three turnovers in the first half, including running back Matt
Jones' second in two games. Jones was benched in favor of Mack Brown,
who ran 24 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. Muschamp said he's going
to go with the "hot hand" at running back beginning next week at
Kentucky.

This much is certain: Murphy will be under center.

Murphy
has been buried on the depth chart, watching from the sideline as
Driskel, Jacoby Brissett, John Brantley, Jordan Reed and Trey Burton all
took snaps ahead of him the last three years.

He considered transferring, but refused to listen to all the people urging him to change positions.

"I
just didn't want to give up," Murphy said. "I felt like if I changed
positions, I would have gave up on myself and I probably wouldn't be
able to live with myself."


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