The whispers out of Florida are that Tyler Murphy may be a better fit at quarterback for the Gators than the injured Jeff Driskel.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Florida will know much more about Murphy when he visits LSU on Saturday, but so far, so good since he stepped in a month ago after Driskel broke his right leg against Tennessee.
Murphy, a junior, has played with poise in finishing the Vols’ game and leading Florida to victories over Kentucky and Arkansas.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Murphy “has a beautiful throwing motion,” and Gators coach Will Muschamp sings his quarterback’s praises.
“He’s done a fabulous job,” Muschamp said.
This season, Murphy is completing 72.2 percent with five touchdowns and one interception. Picks had been a problem for Driskel, who has thrown three.
Murphy, who hadn’t taken any meaningful snaps until the Tennessee game, also has rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
Now he starts a game at Death Valley, one of the nation’s most hostile atmospheres. Win there, and it may be time to recalibrate the SEC East race.
Saturday’s Big 12 games
• Oklahoma vs. Texas at Dallas, 11 a.m. on ABC (Ch. 9): The stakes are high for different reasons. In past years, the winner could think about a national championship chance, and this year the undefeated Sooners are still part of the discussion. But there’s heat on Texas coach Mack Brown, and a third straight blowout loss wouldn’t help his standing. The Longhorns are 2-0 in the Big 12 but aren’t a strong defensive team. Oklahoma is, and quarterback Blake Bell has taken command of the offense.
• Kansas at TCU, 11 a.m. on Fox Sports KC: The pace of the game should be more to the Jayhawks’ liking. Here’s a crazy stat from last week’s 54-16 embarrassing home loss to Texas Tech: The Red Raiders ran 100 plays. But Tech’s 518 total yards was a respectable total for the Kansas’ defense. The Jayhawks’ can’t establish a ground game behind an inexperienced offensive line, making it difficult for Charlie Weis to carry out his offensive philosophy. TCU defensive end Devonte Fields, the Big 12 defensive player of the year last year, is out for the season.
• Iowa State at Texas Tech, 11 a.m. on Fox Sports 1: The Cyclones are coming off another heartbreaking loss, this one to Texas. And now the schedule grows fangs with trips to Tech, Baylor and a home game with Oklahoma State in the next three weeks. The Cyclones have won the last two of three in this series, but the Red Raiders are playing with a load of confidence. Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield may not play this week after injuring his knee against Kansas last weekend.
• Baylor at Kansas State, 2:30 p.m. on Fox (Ch. 4): Average score of a Baylor game: 70-16. Slowing Baylor involves maintaining possession, and unfortunately that has been a problem for Kansas State. The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in turnover margin, throwing eight interceptions and losing six fumbles while gaining five turnovers. The Bears have punted only seven times this season and haven’t recorded a three-and-out on offense. But they haven’t played a team like the Wildcats, who despite some sloppy play, can match Baylor physically. The Bears haven’t been pushed this season. How will they respond if that happens?
Saturday’s SEC games
• Missouri at Georgia, 11 a.m. on ESPN: Of the Tigers’ seven remaining games, five are against teams that are ranked or have been ranked this season, starting with this one. Georgia’s health is a major concern, but quarterback Aaron Murray is healthy and playing the best and most clutch ball of his career. Gary Pinkel seeks his first victory over a top 10 team since beating No. 3 Oklahoma in 2010.
• South Carolina at Arkansas, 11:21 a.m. on KSMO (Ch. 62): A muscle strain near his ribs kept Jadeveon Clowney out of action last weekend, unbeknownst to his coach, Steve Spurrier, until game time. But Clowney is expected to play against the Razorbacks. Arkansas has lost three straight, and bowl eligibility is becoming an issue.
• Western Carolina at Auburn, 1 p.m.: The Catamounts are 1-5 with their only victory over Mars Hill. It’s a paycheck game for Western, a schedule-filler for the Tigers.
• Florida at LSU, 2:30 p.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): The Tigers’ suddenly stout offense, with quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Jeremy Hill and wide receiver Odell Beckham take on what’s probably the SEC’s best defense. Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy is the best cornerback in the SEC, and corner Marcus Roberson, an NFL prospect, is expected to return after nursing a knee injury.
• Alabama at Kentucky, 6 p.m. on ESPN2: League’s best against worst, and although the Wildcats can play some defense, they’re struggling to score. Crimson Tide wide receiver Amari Cooper, who racked up more than 1,000 receiving yards last season, has been slowed by nagging injuries, but Nick Saban suggested Cooper could make a bigger impact in this game.
• Bowling Green at Mississippi State, 6:30 p.m.: The Falcons are 5-1 and no pushover, and they play a ground-and-pound style on offense and have a solid defense. Mississippi State will go with two quarterbacks, Dak Prescott and Tyler Russell. Both had their moments in last week’s loss to LSU.
• Texas A&M at Mississippi, 7:30 p.m. on ESPN: Mississippi played four of its first five on the road and won at Texas. The Rebels begin a six-game home stand against Johnny Manziel and company. The Aggies’ defense has been hurting, and Mississippi’s mobile quarterback Bo Wallace may have a chance to approach Manziel’s numbers in this one.