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Wednesday November 13, 2013 Mornhinweg on deck if Murphy can't go; Pease stays focused amidst critics

Updated: 7:22am, November 13

Tyler Murphy

Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy is expected to be a "game-time" decision at South Carolina.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- As if Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease doesn't have enough on his mind -- a struggling offense, mounting criticism and four consecutive losses -- he also has concerns about the cranky right shoulder of starting quarterback Tyler Murphy.

The Gators play at No. 12-ranked South Carolina on Saturday and Murphy is questionable at best.

"I think it's probably a game-time decision," Pease said Tuesday. "Same situation we've been in before. He's got to get in some practice time at some point [to play]. It's day-to-day based on what the trainers have to say."

Murphy hurt the shoulder in a loss at LSU last month. He has started the three games since but has not thrown the ball as sharply as he did in his first three games, wins over Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas.

In Saturday's 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt, Murphy finished 30 of 46 for a career-high 305 yards as he played through the pain in his throwing shoulder.

Gators coach Will Muschamp said Murphy would not practice Monday and Tuesday and would be re-evaluated as the week progressed. Muschamp is scheduled to speak to the media Wednesday morning on the SEC media teleconference.

Skyler Mornhinweg

Meanwhile, if Murphy is unable to play, the Gators will go with redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg (photo). Pease said the backup would be walk-on Christian Provancha.

Neither player has taken a snap for the Gators.

Murphy is spending most of his time this week doing rehab on his injured shoulder. Muschamp said the diagnosis after the LSU game was a sprained AC joint.

"It's just frustrating being banged up a little bit and having to sit out and try to get healthy,'' Murphy said. "I'm going to live in the training room and get healthy and try to get back out there as soon as possible."

Murphy missed three days of practice the week of the Missouri game and started.

"It's not something that is a new situation for us, but you've got to plan and make sure the things we do with Skyler, Murph should also be able to perform,'' Pease said. "Fit things around both of them in a game plan that's really going to benefit our team."

Mornhinweg, who signed in the 2012 recruiting class, grew up in Philadelphia and played at St. Joseph's (Pa.) Prep. His father Marty Mornhinweg is a veteran NFL coach and currently offensive coordinator of the New York Jets.

Pease said Mornhinweg is prepared to start if Murphy can't play.

"He's ready to go," Pease said. "The thing that's tough on a kid in his situation is just experience. You hope you never really have to play with a redshirt freshman. Nothing against him because he's a smart kid, he works hard.

"But in a developmental situation, you hope that you get into your sophomore and junior year before you're in that situation, whether you're competing for the job or in a backup role ready to play."

PEASE ON CRITICISM

Florida's offense, depleted by injuries on the offensive line and the loss of starting quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Matt Jones early in the season, is ranked 13th in the SEC and 112th in the country.

Pease and Murphy

With a 4-5 record and on the verge of missing a bowl game for the first time in 23 years, Muschamp has faced his share of criticism recently.

Of course, so has Pease, in his second season running UF's offense. Pease came to UF from Boise State, where he spent six seasons.

While it's difficult to judge the offense's performance fairly with so many injuries to key players, that hasn't stopped fans from calling for Pease's job.

"It’s human nature to think about that," Pease said Tuesday. "But, you know, I’ve still got an obligation to this team and the head coach and the players and the administration that I work for."

Pease said his approach when things are not going well is the same one he stresses to his players.

"You’ve got to be mentally tough,'' said Pease, who was being pursued by Alabama and Florida after the 2011 season and chose the Gators. "You’ve got to shut it out sometimes. And I understand what people are saying and frustrated with. You’ve got to work through it.

"Do they understand all of the circumstances? Not all of the time. But you've got to work through it. In my situation, I don't think you can lose confidence in who you are and what you believe in and how you got to do your job.

"Last year it was a situation where we knew how to manufacture and get wins. I wouldn't say highly explosive, what you want to be, but it was productive."

The rash of injuries certainly hasn't helped.

"Yeah, it’s tough, but what are you going to do?" Pease said. "You’ve got to play the cards you’re dealt."

FINAL WORD

One of the most talked about plays after Saturday's 34-17 defeat was the Gators' first-and-goal play from Vanderbilt's 1-yard line in the second quarter.

Murphy took the snap, and then rolled left to the short side of the field on an option play. He pitched the ball out of bounds for a 5-yard loss.

The play drew boos at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Pease called an inside run play, but instead, Murphy checked out of the play into an option.

"We called the play, and Coach [Muschamp] asked me what we're running. I said, 'We're running it downhill at them.' They jumped in what we call a bear front, which is something that we should be able to handle. It's a gap-scheme play that we should still be running it downhill. It got called off.

"[Tyler] said, 'Oh, I've got to do something.' So he checked to an option play, which we did not have. Still, we kind of got a play that matches those fronts. I think he thought beyond it a little bit. Like I told him, 'in that situation, you're uncertain, we're on the 1, OK, call timeout. Have some composure.' He's got to learn from it."

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