Florida Gators Transfer Roundup: Tyler Murphy Leads Offensive Exodus from Gainesville

As of the writing of the post, the Florida Gators have seen seven players announce their intentions to transfer. All seven players seeking to play football elsewhere are from the offensive side of the ball.

Tyler Murphy, Florida Gators

Leading the list of those intending to leave the University of Florida and pursue their athletic and academic careers elsewhere is redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy. Murphy, who graduated this past Saturday, will be eligible to play immediately at whatever school chooses to accept him as a graduate student.

Despite being told by head coach Will Muschamp that there will be an open competition for the role of starting quarterback, Murphy decided to finish his career elsewhere. Few believe the competition to truly be open and Murphy was among those skeptics. It has long been believed that, if healthy, junior Jeff Driskel will return to the role he left after his season-ended injury against Tennessee.

Due to Driskel’s return, the decision to play redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg when Murphy was himself hurt, and the impending arrival of recruit Will Grier, freshman Max Staver has also decided to transfer from the program. It was thought that Staver didn’t come off of the Florida bench when Murphy couldn’t play because he was a true freshman and the coaching staff didn’t want to lose his redshirt status to what was a lost season. With the possibility of being fourth or even fifth on the depth chart had Murphy stayed, Staver decided to leave as well.

While some think Murphy’s departure gives four-star prospect Grier a better chance to claim the starting spot at some point during the 2014 season, the incoming freshman may have his sights set on redshirting and learning all he can from the sidelines his first year. While Driskel is the starter and Mornhinweg does have experience at this point, if 2014 is anything like 2013, we may see Grier in action.

Also transferring is sophomore tight end Kent Taylor. Taylor came out of Land O’ Lakes, FL (Land O’ Lakes) as one of the top recruits at the tight end position, but leaves Florida after two seasons and only two receptions. Much more was expected when he signed with the Gators, but Taylor was never able to crack the lineup. A pass-catching tight end, Taylor was also the smallest scholarship player at the position on the roster. Not able to double as a blocker, Taylor was relegated to the sidelines during the 2013 season.

Redshirt junior offensive lineman Ian Silberman actually started four games during the 2013 season, but that was mostly due to injuries along the line. Silberman, like Murphy, graduated and will use the NCAA transfer rule to be immediately eligible with another program where he will look for increased playing time.

Redshirted freshmen Rhaheim Ledbetter and Quinteze Williams both elected to transfer after neither were able to find their way into the rotation on either side of the ball. Ledbetter came to Florida as a defensive back, but switched to fullback before the 2013 season. Williams couldn’t find a consistent role on either of the offensive or defensive lines.

Finally, freshman offensive lineman Trevon Young only needed one season to decide college football wasn’t for him. He is rumored to be hoping to play college basketball going forward.

With all seven transfers announced so far occurring on the offensive side of the ball, the struggles continue to mount for the Gators. In the midst of a slump that hasn’t been experienced in decades in Gainesville, the offense looks to rebuild again in 2014. While many of the players transferring were not contributors and most likely weren’t going to be in the immediate future, there are now seven additional roster spots to fill. With injuries seeming to be a never-ending problem at both quarterback and along the offensive line, you need bodies.

Florida will now turn to recruiting to fill those spots, but each additional day without an offensive coordinator may make that difficult. In December alone, the Gators have added three offensive players to their 2014 commitment list, but that could be difficult to maintain given the uncertainty present at the moment. From coaching to recruiting to the roster to the games, the offense has plenty of questions to answer.

Florida vs. Vandy, Bowl Eligibility, and Awkward Hashtags

Twitter could be one of the worst things to happen to our society, or one of the best; there is no in-between. It allows us to find out at a moment’s notice that the Florida Gators are no stranger to injury, while also bringing trash talk to a new level. It also accounts for more moments of awkwardness than possibly any other medium, because as a not-so-famous (at the time) actress once said in a movie about another social network “the internet is written in pen, not pencil.” (That may have been paraphrased for reasons having to do with me being too lazy to look it up.)

What did Twitter bring us today? It brought us Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin. Franklin is the motivation type as many coaches are when it comes to Twitter. You won’t find much real talk when it comes to such figures. Instead, it’s all inspirational quotes, motivational sayings, or battle calls to rally the troops. But occasionally awkwardness rears its ugly (and humorous) head.

Put it this way, if you need a disclaimer every time you say something, you should think about saying it in a different way. When “opportunity is now here” quickly becomes “opportunity is nowhere,” it’s time for a new hashtag, even if it is oddly appropriate for the game about to take place this Saturday.

The opportunity for the Gators to secure a bowl berth is now here. That much is true; painfully so. When you’re nine games into the season and need a win against a Vandy team that beat a Georgia team that beat you in hopes of going bowling nowhere better describes things than now here. And that is exactly when we give out yet another large sigh and ugh ourselves into the fetal position. “Opportunity is nowhere, but hey look my vat of beer is now here!”

Opportunity is nowhere because the Gators are 4-4. It’s nowhere because a bowl isn’t a guarantee. It has been too many years since Florida last missed bowl season and too many to even think of a losing record. Opportunity passed us over and moved on to the next man standing. (With Oregon’s loss to Stanford just one night ago, that man may be Florida State. Say it with me again without vomiting just a little in your mouth—“UGH.”)

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With a Week Off Before Georgia, The Florida Gators Need an Offensive Rebirth

The Florida Gators don’t play this Saturday. Some of you may actually be breathing a sigh of relief knowing that. I am with you. I need a break, and I’m just a fan. I’m not a player and I’m definitely not the head coach or offensive coordinator. The players need a week off, Will Muschamp and Brent Pease need an extra week to determine the direction they’re going to head, and fans need a nice, relaxing Saturday with nothing on the line.

Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs

I will be perusing college football betting at TopBet, looking for games I can watch in a calm environment that doesn’t include me pacing in front of my television. Surprisingly, this season has been a calming one for me when experiencing our losses. I know that sounds, well, off and not right at all, but here’s the scenario: the losses to Miami and Missouri had me at home alone with my one-year-old son and the loss to LSU saw me in Minneapolis for a wedding. The losses stung like they always do, but I had plenty to distract me immediately following their conclusion. I didn’t have the opportunity to stew in the pain of defeat; I had to move on quickly. If another L works its way on to the Gators’ record, I hope I can find something else to take my mind away.

During the bye week, I’ll be relaxing (actually, I’ll be taking a redeye back from San Francisco only to return home to a pile of housework). The Gators, however, will not be. They will be wondering what happened to the defense against Missouri, but—most important—they will continue the hunt for offense. Are we at the point where tweaks are no longer the answer? Does the entire offense need to be re-imagined and reborn? The answer to both is yes. Muschamp, Pease and the Gators need to try something new. Slogging through the rest of the season with the current offense will see a team with talent crash and burn several more times.

We could make a list of aspects of the offense to look at. Actually, let’s go ahead and do it:

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Florida Gators Lose to Missouri; Have the Wheels Fallen Off?

In many sports, 4-3 isn’t an awful record; a win percentage like that may even get you into the playoffs. In college football, 4-3 is a disaster. With their latest loss—this time to the surging Missouri Tigers—the Florida Gators are 4-3 and in a position where all hope may seem lost. There’s still a chance for 10 wins (always a good thing), but the Gators would have to win out. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone that currently believes Florida has a chance of doing that. In order to come even close, the Gators must first find an offense.

Kelvin Taylor, Florida Gators

NCAA expert betting lines (click here for view more) will tell you Mizzou isn’t a bad team. In fact, they’ll tell you the Tigers are a very good team. Sometimes losing to a team of that respect can lessen the blow, but not when you lose the way the Gators did. While the offense I already mentioned looked for any possible way to move the ball, the defense finally gave in. Try as they might, Florida was no match for Missouri on either side of the ball. When hope was briefly restored after Solomon Patton’s kickoff return, it was quickly taken away by the Tigers’ offense.

Before the game started, I would have told you I was 50-50 on the outcome. The Gators’ defense had the talent and ability to keep Florida in any game regardless of the opponent and, if the offense could do just enough to put a few points on the board, then the orange and blue would be right in it. Add that to the fact that the Tigers would be without quarterback James Franklin and the Gators had a real shot to take down a ranked opponent. Unfortunately, it was the other side of that 50-50 that would prevail.

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Florida Gators Search for Offense with Another Ranked Opponent on the Horizon

Raise your hand if you are pleased with what Will Muschamp has done with the Florida Gators’ defense. If your hand isn’t raised, it should be. The Gators have a head coach that has lost defensive talent to the NFL and injury, but has still produced once of the best units in the nation. It’s Muschamp’s specialty; he made a name for himself as a defensive coordinator before he became the successor to the man we so wish we could never name again. Unfortunately, for Muschamp’s legacy, he is also making a name for himself as a head coach that can’t fit all the pieces together on the other side of the ball.

Will Muschamp and Brent Pease, Florida Gators

First the good (or, at the very least, the acceptable). Against LSU, the Gators managed 17 first downs (not an awful number), converted three of their four fourth-down attempts, didn’t turn over the ball, and saw extended action from freshman phenom running back Kelvin Taylor, who finished with 52 yards on 10 carries.

Now to the bad, or ugly. The Gators converted only six of 17 third-down attempts, managed just 240 yards of total offense, didn’t have a play go for more than 20 yards, gained 4.6 yards per pass and 2.8 per rush, lost starting running back Matt Jones for the season, and scored only six points despite winning the time of possession battle by more than eight minutes.

What has become somewhat of a pattern with the Gators of late, brings up two questions: 1) Will Muschamp ever be able to truly lead a team on both sides of the ball?, and 2) Should Brent Pease be the offensive coordinator?

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No. 6, Tyler Murphy, LSU, and My Never-Ending Love of the Florida Gators

Yes, I am alive. And yes, my love of the Florida Gators hasn’t died. It has just been dormant on this one particular display vehicle. While active on other mediums, The Bull Gator site has been left out in the cold. My name is Joel and I haven’t posted anything on this site in 63 days.

Tyler Murphy, Florida Gators

In that time, the Gators have marched (if that’s one way of putting it) to a 4-1 start behind an elite defense, an impressive after-thought turned hero of a quarterback and a schedule that’s about to take a turn into the realm of increased difficulty. I’d like to say I’m pleased with the season so far, and I am, but I’m also cautious and worried about what’s right around the corner. The defense gives me hope, while the offense has my wondering if it can keep up with the scoring prowess of some of the teams on the horizon.

As the Gators continue the 2013 season, I’d like to say my contributions to the blog part of The Bull Gator network will increase, but I honestly can’t promise that. Oddly enough, my first season as a football season ticket holder coincides with the lowest post output since this site’s inception. But the love is there and is never-ending. To use a phrase that honestly makes me laugh just a little every time I hear it, I bleed orange and blue.

For now, I’m back if for one post in the middle of a season with plenty to look forward to. Enjoy the thoughts of someone that has been observing from the sidelines (or, more accurately, from 21 rows up).

Speaking of hope and looking forward, I ever so briefly looked forward to what No. 6 would bring to the Gators this season. His contributions were limited and are now over as it stands for 2013, but that quickly brings me to another No. 6 and a player that is fast becoming one of the nation’s best.

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Josh Shaw And Lynden Trail Transfer From Florida: Gators’ Depth Takes Another Hit

You know what Florida really needed? More players transferring. That’s a great way to build depth.

Those would be the extremely sarcastic words of Andy Hutchins of Alligator Army. It’s also what nearly every fan of the Florida Gators thought to themselves when they head the news on Tuesday that defensive back Josh Shaw and defensive end Lynden Trail would transfer.

The Gators’ 2010 recruiting class was one of legend. Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley topped the list of star recruits who signed with Florida and then head coach Urban Meyer. Nearly two full seasons later and that 27-man class has lost nine of its members. Transfers are expected when you lose a coach and his staff; one-third may be more than even a worst-case scenario (and, oh yeah, some think Mack Brown and/or Tyler Murphy may not be far behind). Did going 14-11 over the last two seasons have something to do with it? It’s possible, but in the case of Shaw and Trail, it probably had more to due with playing time.

Shaw was one of the nation’s best coming out of high school. The Palmdale, CA cornerback was rated the no. 28 player in the country by Rivals.com. Moved around the defensive backfield, Shaw never found a home and never was able to find consistency in his play. Despite injuries in the secondary, Shaw wasn’t able to take command of a position during practice and playing time was limited in 2011. Rumors of his impending transfer have been swirling for nearly a year now. At first glance, Shaw may not appear to be a immediate loss, but how many times have we heard little from a player early in his career, only to watch him grow into an important part of the team in later years?

Trail – and Booker T. Washington teammate Quinton Dunbar – also joined the Gators as part of the 2010 class. The nation’s no. 7 weakside defensive end in high school, Trail was a tall defender almost in the mold of Jarvis Moss. His path to playing time appeared to be a longer one and, in the end, he wasn’t willing to wait.

With depth continuing to take hit after hit, 2012 is shaping up to be a building year. It doesn’t help that rumors continue regarding additional transfers. Keep your fingers crossed for a growing 2012 recruiting class and a stop to a shrinking roster. We may be in one of those dreaded “things have to appear worse, before they get better” times. Let’s hope it all ends quickly.

Linebacker Dee Finley To Transfer

You’ll always lose players during a coaching transition. You rarely lose them midway through a season.

On Tuesday, the rumor mill was pumping out stories of various Florida players considering leaving the Gators for what they would hope are greener pastures. Among those names, the two most prominently featured where quarterback Tyler Murphy and linebacker Dee Finley. Well, one rumor has come true.

Finley will leave Florida in an attempt to find playing time elsewhere. The linebacker came to Gainesville as one of the nation’s top defensive back recruits. He was converted to linebacker and hoped to earn more time under defense-driven head coach Will Muschamp, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Finley wasn’t able to earn more than a few minutes here and there and an arrest early this year put a black mark on his record.

With the announcement coming now, the guess is that Finley is looking to enroll somewhere this coming Spring.

Last 10 Things: Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers

10 final things about Florida’s matchup with LSU.


1. Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel? Tyler Murphy or Trey Burton? It’ll be one of the first two, but all four could see action. The Gators may try to run Burton out of the wildcat. They may even throw Murphy in there at one point, but it’s up to one or both of the true freshmen to step up in this one.

2. Jarrett Lee doesn’t throw interceptions anymore, which clearly means the world is much worse off than we thought. If Florida can turn Lee into his old self, things look up for the Gators. If they can’t, well, moving right along…

3. Does the run game win out again? The key to the Florida/Alabama matchup was whichever team could run and stop the run. With inexperienced quarterbacks on one side and an average one on the other, will the run game rule again?

4. If it is the run game, the Gators need everything they can get out of Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. Every last little bit. The big play has to be present.

5. Staying with that topic for one more thought: to get everything they can out of Rainey and Demps, the offensive line needs to get dirty from the first snap. Consistency must be there. For 60 minutes, the line has to be a unit. Yes, all 60. Whether on the field or not, the line needs to become one unit. Not five individual players, but one cohesive unit playing together to open lanes, block downfield, and keep the quarterback(s) upright.

6. The tight ends could be critical. You always hear about a great tight end is vital for an inexperienced quarterback. The TE can save the QB as an additional blocker or as a dump-off option in the passing game. The Florida tight ends need to be on their game against LSU and help the quarterbacks as much as they can.

7. Pressure, pressure, pressure. Florida benefitted from increased pressure by the defensive line against Kentucky and Tennessee. Against Alabama, it disappeared and was obviously a weakness. When facing LSU, the line needs to get to the quarterback. When Lee does drop back to throw, the line needs to force him into bad decisions. He has that DNA somewhere deep inside of him; the line needs to break it out.

8. Tackling, tackling, tackling. Trent Richardson is a great running back. The Gators made him look greater (?) by allowing him to bounce off of contact and drag defenders for additional yards. Florida’s linebackers are good, or at least they can be. They have to bring ball carriers down when they first hit them and they have to drive them backwards.

9. Angles, angles, angles. When Richardson was able to get to the secondary level of the defense, he continued to gain yards because of bad angles taken by the defensive backs. The DBs were running to where he was and not where he was going to be. Because of that he was able to double some of his gains with ease. The Florida defensive backs know how to play the run; they just have to do so.

10. As fans, we’re allowed to be nervous. I’ll admit that I’m nervous before every single game. It doesn’t matter the opponent, my nerves get to me whether it’s a little or a lot. This week, it’s a lot, but I’m allowed that feeling as a fan. The players aren’t. They can’t go into this game worried about what could happen. They have to be confident of their ability and ready for LSU from the opening kickoff.

For more on the matchup: a quick look, a Florida hero, a LSU hero, a recruiting story from the past, the full preview, and numbers, numbers, numbers.

Preview: Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers – Saturday, October 8, 2011 – 3:30pm

The lineup as it currently stands: quick look, Florida hero, LSU hero, recruiting story from the past, and now the full preview. The Gators faced their first real test against Alabama. It’s now time for test number two and it might not be pretty. As Florida fans, we’re still behind our school and our team. As realists, we aren’t so sure. LSU isn’t at or near the top of the polls by some luck of the draw. The Tigers – who I’ll admit I thought were ranked too high at the beginning of the season – are that good. Get ready for the ride.


The Facts

Opponent: LSU Tigers
When: Saturday, October 8, 2011 – 3:30pm
Where: Baton Rouge, LA
Television/Radio: CBS, GRN, Yahoo, Sirius 91, XM 91
Records: Florida: 4-1 (2-1), LSU: 5-0 (2-0)
Point Spread: LSU -13
Over/Under: 43
Betting Score That Would Calculate To: LSU 28-15
Scoring Offenses: Florida: 34.2, LSU: 38.0
Scoring Defenses: Florida: 14.8; LSU: 12.8
Our Gators’ Win Factor (See Here): TBG: 15, OEW: 20

5 Things About LSU From Wikipedia

ONLY FIVE?!? Yes.

1. The full name: Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College.
2. We’ve had some very unoriginal mascot names so far this season. Mike may not be creative, but at least it’s not Tigger the Tiger or something along those lines. Side note: a live tiger mascot is one the cooler things in college football.
3. John Lombardi is the president of the Louisiana State University System. The same Lombardi that was Florida’s president from 1990 to 1999.
4. Swine Palace was the first building on the current campus. Its name fit the bill as it was originally a livestock barn. It is now Reilly Theater.
5. Yet another win for LSU…the yearbook is called Gumbo.

When The Gators Have The Ball

UPDATE: There are several whispers of Brissett possible getting the start Saturday. Driskel may have an issue with his ankle that could slow him, forcing the other true freshman to get the ball. If that’s the case, much of the same below applies with Brissett’s name inserted.

Earlier this week, I called it The Jeff Driskel Show. Since then, it has become more than that. With Will Muschamp and Charlie Weis announcing an open competition at quarterback for Florida, it became The Jeff Driskel Band featuring Tyler Murphy and Jacoby Brissett with special guest Trey Burton. It appears to have come full circle and all sign points to Driskel getting the starting nod on Saturday against LSU (except for those ever increasing signs pointing to what I stated in the update above). However, others could and probably will take snaps. Due to that, I’ll go with The Jeff Driskel Experience until it’s no longer something any of us wish to witness; or at the very least, until Burton runs the wildcat.

The last true freshman to start at quarterback for the Gators was Chris Leak in 2003. Leak would beat no. 4 Georgia that season and LSU in Baton Rouge. The Tigers had a defensive coordinator back then that looked remarkably like Muschamp (PSST! It was Muschamp.). That LSU team wasn’t the no. 1 team in the nation like this one is, but it did manage to win all of the rest of its games and the national championship. That’s not an exact light at the end of the tunnel, but may give some of you historians out there a brief moment of hope.

Driskel will struggle on Saturday; that much is inevitable. Death Valley is as hostile as it gets in terms of game day environments. It’s never easy to win on the road in the SEC, but some places are harder than others and LSU is one of them. When you’re a true freshman forced to play due to injury, it’s not any easier. Driskel has talent and over time can develop into a true Gator great. That progression may start against the Tigers, but their all-world defense will have something to say about it. In the second half against Alabama, we saw Driskel in “let’s not try anything too crazy and instead just get out of here without losing anyone else” mode. He was given a very limited number of plays to run and rightfully so. The Crimson Tide defense wasn’t going to give him an inch (even if they did give him 31 yards on one play that made Gator fans everywhere grin just a little). Against LSU, things will open up. They have to. While establishing the run game is of the utmost importance, Florida will need to pass at some points to move the ball down the field. The run can be effective, but this isn’t an offense designed to run the ball 50 times and pass it only five. Driskel may not be asked to do much, but he will be asked to do something.

And now for that run game. I just said the run game can be effective. Let’s take that one step further: the run game HAS TO be effective. This was the Gators’ strength. Against Alabama, it quickly became a weakness. The offensive line crumbled under the pressure put forth by the Tide’s defensive line. Runs to the middle never developed and runs to the outside where quickly sniffed out. It was ugly. There’s really no better way to say that. Chris Rainey couldn’t get going and Jeff Demps was hurt early and rendered ineffective. With John Brantley watching this one and Driskel (or Brissett) taking charge for the first time, the run game needs to be the freshman’s crutch. Driskel needs to be able to rely on six, seven, and eight yards from the running backs consistently. There is, however, a problem: LSU’s defense.

Florida gets no break a week after facing one of the nation’s best. The Gators couldn’t move the ball on the ground against the Tide and with Driskel at the helm, Florida couldn’t pass either. The Tigers will be just as tenacious, just as fast, and just as rough on the quarterback. The line could be the most vital part of the Gators’ offense. They must open up lanes for the backs, but also keep Driskel from becoming too acquainted with the Death Valley turf.

When The Tigers Have The Ball

Gators’ fans have wanted to see Florida throw the ball more this season. Tigers’ fans could probably want the same thing. A top ranking and 5-0 record makes it less of an issue though. However, LSU does have a similar pass-to-rush ratio. The Tigers are led be Jarrett Lee who has attempted 108 passes through five games. Lee is not extremely accurate, doesn’t go deep a lot, and is really just an all-around average quarterback. But in seeing his most time since his 2008, his weakness seems to no longer be one. In 2008, Lee attempted 269 passes and threw 16 interceptions. He only threw two interceptions over 2009 and 2010 combined, but never attempted more than 89 passes in either season. To start 2011, Lee has thrown the ball 108 times and only done so to the other team once. In his first 269 attempts, 16 interceptions; in his next 237, three. Throw in the seven touchdowns Lee has thrown this season and you have an average, but reliable quarterback.

Lee will need to be rattled. Somewhere inside of him is an erratic quarterback. It may be deep inside of him, but it’s there somewhere. This is where the entire defense comes into play. The defensive line must find its pressure again. LSU has talent across the offensive line, but Florida has talent of its own. The pressure from the line needs to be accompanied by great linebacker and secondary play. The defense did its best to keep A.J. McCarron himself last week. They didn’t let an average quarterback look like a great one. The same needs to happen against Lee. If the LSU QB is the hero, the game will turn quickly.

Where improvement needs to be made though is in stopping the run. Alabama was able to let McCarron be his usual self because they dominated Florida in every aspect of the run game. LSU has a solid run attack too. It’s not as good as the Tide’s, but instead works in a pound-away-at-the-line sort of mode. Tackling at the line will be the key for the Gators to stop the Tigers from sustaining long drives and eating up too much of the clock.

Special Teams

There’s one thing to keep in mind: the fake field goal. Les Miles brought it out last season and he’s just crazy enough to do it again. Florida must be alert in all special teams’ situations.

Outcome

A tough environment coupled with going up against one of the nation’s best defenses will make things difficult on the Gators. Whether it’s Driskel or Brissett taking snaps, the Florida quarterbacks will be facing serious pressure all day. If one can keep his head in the game and not get too rattled – and, of course, the defense can return to form – the Gators could stay in this one. It will be a battle to even do that though. Expect LSU’s defense to give Florida everything it has. If you want a specific unit to look at in this one that could have a big impact on the outcome, it’s the Gators’ offensive line. Not to add to the pressure of an already big game, but this one is your game boys. Time to come together.