Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy’s first start was a memorable one, as the Gators now own the longest winning streak by one SEC team over another in an annual, uninterrupted series. Florida has defeated Kentucky for the 27th consecutive time, 24-7.
It was a dominating all-around performance for this Gator team, which finally looks comfortable in its own skin after a rather shaky September start. Florida’s opening drive against Kentucky set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Murphy-led Gator offense started from its own seven yard line. It was by far the most impressive drive of the season—Florida drove 93 yards on 13 plays, converted three 3rd downs, chewed up almost eight minutes, and most importantly, capped the drive off with a touchdown.
It’s been a smooth transition for Murphy so far. Had you only looked at the stat sheet, you would have never believed it was his first career start as a Gator. His performance was like the second coming of the great “famous” Jameis Winston of Florida State (insert sarcasm here). Murphy completed his first 13 passes of the night, while throwing and running for a touchdown in the first half.
Perhaps the most crucial stat since Murphy has taken over as quarterback is Florida’s redzone efficiency: Seven trips, seven scores. Six touchdowns and a field goal.
While Jeff Driskel is arguably Florida’s most talented quarterback on the roster, Murphy has proven thus far to be a better decision maker, which is all this team really needs under center. Florida’s offensive production in the Muschamp era, or lack thereof, has been a topic of scrutiny for quite some time now. In year two of Brent Pease’s offense, Gator fans were expecting a much improved attack in 2013. These expectations were not unfounded, but like it or not, they have been put on hold due to the current situation the team faces.
It seems as though Florida has reverted back to its strategy from a year ago: Ball control, ball security, and great defense. It resulted in an 11-1 regular season, and with the defense that Florida has, particularly its defensive line and secondary, it is not unrealistic to believe the Gators still have a good chance to win the SEC East.
The key ingredient to Florida’s offense last season was a great running back. Florida had that in Mike Gillislee, who rushed for over 1,100 yards.
Running back Matt Jones, fresh off a career high 176 yards rushing against Kentucky, appears to be the man most likely to fill the shoes Gillislee left behind. Jones, who battled through a nagging viral infection during the summer, has seemingly hit his stride and will be expected to carry the load and build off of his successful day in Lexington.
If Jones is able to mirror the success of his predecessor, good things are likely to come to this Gator team that is seeking its third straight SEC victory against Arkansas on Saturday.