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Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy has gained much respect for the way he has performed the last three games.

Wednesday October 9, 2013Gators Notebook: Murphy Earns Respect, Leak Fits In, Plus More #UFvsLSU Tidbits

Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy has gained much respect for the way he has performed the last three games.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- He won a game off the bench. He won on the road. He won at home.

Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy's next challenge is to lead the Gators to a win on the road against a ranked team: No. 10 LSU on Saturday in Baton Rouge.

In his three games as Florida's quarterback, Murphy has gained the respect of his teammates, coaches, opponents and fans.

"He really commands the offense," Gators offensive lineman Max Garcia said Tuesday. "We just run really smoothly with him. He's just so relaxed. It's almost like nonchalant."

Tyler Murphy

Murphy's calmness under pressure was evident from the start when he replaced an injured Jeff Driskel against Tennessee. Murphy directed Florida to a 31-17 win and in his first two career starts -- at Kentucky and at home Saturday against Arkansas -- he seemed to get better with each snap.

Instead of the Gators' season going down the drain, Murphy has re-energized a fan base and locker room with his confident and steady play.

"He’s got great respect from his teammates,'' Gators coach Will Muschamp said. "Regardless of how much you’ve played or how well you’ve played, when you step into the role of quarterback at the University of Florida you are a leader.

LSU coach Les Miles has seen enough on film to know that his defense will be challenged Saturday.

"The quarterback is a playmaker,'' Miles said. "He's a guy that's very athletic. He's a guy that can throw the football. So it's an offense that's diverse. But, again, I think that the triggerman is certainly the guy that makes good decisions ... plays smart and does what the coaches ask him to do."

Muschamp and others have praised Murphy for the way he manages a game. If others consider that a negative label, don't count Murphy among them.

He is doing his job and the Gators are winning.

"I don’t take any offense to it,'' he said of the game-manager label. "Since I’ve been here, Alabama has been one of the top teams. Watching them, I try to copycat A.J. McCarron a little bit. He does a great job managing the game and taking what the defense gives him. His third year being the starter, he’s making a lot of plays and put the team on his back a few times. It all starts with being a game manager.

"I just try to get first downs and move the ball.”

LEAK FITS IN

Former Gators quarterback Chris Leak returned to his alma mater in the spring to start graduate school and embark on a coaching career.

He is an offensive grad assistant and according to Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease, Leak has the tools to make his mark as a coach.

leak

"A guy that's won a national championship at a school and was recruited like he was and meets the expectations and the standard and is still a humble person and really good person and good family man,” Pease said. “He's going to be a good coach. He's found what he wants to do and he's got good ideas and he works hard."

Leak starred for the Gators from 2003-06 and still ranks as the third all-time leading passer in SEC history. After a few years playing professionally in Canada and the Arena League, Leak spent time as a media analyst last year before opting to pursue a coaching career.

Pease is impressed at the way the 28-year-old Leak has handled the transition.

"The tough thing about when you leave, if you're a professional player and you all of a sudden have to come to college and you're shoved into a room and you've got to break film down and you're there for long hours," Pease said. "His family is down in Orlando and they come up on the weekends and he's not seeing them a whole lot. That's tough. Sometimes you ask yourself, 'Is this really worth it?' It's worth it to him because he's doing it and he's doing a really good job with it."

FUNNY FOWLER

Sophomore Dante Fowler Jr. has quickly turned into one of the Gators' most productive players.

And one of their funniest.

Dante Fowler Jr.

Whether it's Fowler clutching injured teammate Dominique Easley's Chucky doll or dropping humorous quips at press conferences, Fowler is entertaining and genuinely funny. He's become a media favorite since taking on a more prominent role.

"Look at me, I’m smiling right now,” Fowler said at Monday's media day. “I like to play around and stuff like that. I just turned 19, so I just try to love life. I’m still a kid. I’m not 21 yet. My mom still washes my clothes."

When he is on the field, Fowler turns serious. All you have to do is ask opposing offensive linemen.

He leads the Gators with three sacks and seven of his 17 tackles are for a loss.

“Dante has a great personality,'' Muschamp said. "He’s a lot of fun to be around and coach. You can coach Dante hard. Guys of his caliber sometimes are not approachable in that situation. He’s a guy that takes coaching. He wants to be coached. He wants to be coached hard."

Off the field, Fowler takes a lighter approach, usually with a smile.

"I’m just nice to everybody. I'm just a big, goofy, teddy-bear guy,'' he said. "It’s crazy though, because on the football field, I probably say some things and people will be looking at me like, ‘What?’ And I’m like, ‘Sorry, bro. It’s football.' "

CUMMINGS COMES ON

Junior-college transfer Darious Cummings had his best all-around game in Saturday's win over Arkansas.

A 6-foot-1, 309-pound defensive tackle, Cummings forced a fumble, had a tackle-for-loss and a quarterback hurry.

Muschamp singled out Cummings for his performance.

"He played very well, he really did,” Muschamp said. "He played blocks extremely well. He stayed square on the line of scrimmage. He got good penetration inside. He probably played the best game of our inside guys."

If Cummings can continue to duplicate that performance, it would be a huge boost for Florida's defensive line in the wake of a season-ending knee to Easley.

"[Muschamp] kind of challenged us after Easley went down,'' Cummings said. "He said somebody needs to step up and somebody needs to fill that void. That's why I was brought here. I just took in upon myself to get better. I just focused on being explosive and reading my assignments and reading my keys."

QUOTE OF NOTE I

"They’re not tall, but they can all go up and get the ball like they are 6-3, 6-4.” -- Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins on LSU's receivers

Brent Pease

QUOTE OF NOTE II

“We had some situations we were going to try to get him in there in the last half of the fourth quarter, but they held onto the ball and drove it and stuff. He practices hard. He’s a good kid. He’s got a good attitude. He is a good player. I just want to see him continually do the things and just have some patience.'' -- Pease on freshman RB Kelvin Taylor, who has six rushes for 46 yards in three appearances

QUOTE OF NOTE III

"They have good players. They'll be coming to Tiger Stadium. Any time that we get these two teams matched up, I can think back into '07 [a 28-24 LSU win}, and think back into times that we've faced Florida in this stadium, they've always been very competitive. We'll be challenged.'' -- Miles on facing Florida

Here is a complete transcript of Miles' Monday press conference.

OPPONENT SPOTLIGHT

LSU quarterback Zack Mettenberger was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Mettenberger has passed for 1,738 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is on pace to break school records in both categories.

Here is video of Mettenberger from LSU's media day this week from the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate:

 

 WHAT THEY ARE WRITING

--Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi opines that if Murphy had been a five-star recruit coming out of high school, he would have been starting long ago.

--Miles discusses LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's future in this notebook by James Moran of Nola.com.

--The move to safety for Watkins and teammate Cody Riggs has put them in the spotlight writes Jason Lieser of the Palm Beach Post.

NOTES AND NUGGETS

“He’s a guy that's going to throw his face in the fan, I can assure you that,'' Muschamp said of freshman LB Jarrad Davis, who suffered a cheek laceration in win over Arkansas. Davis is expected to return to special teams Saturday ... The Gators can expect thousands of "Live Gold" towels waving at Tiger Stadium as part of a fan initiative ... LSU receiver Odell Beckham Jr. leads nation in all-purpose yards (228.2 per game).

 

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