But now that it's happened, Gator Nation seems to be thinking it's some sort of blessing in disguise.
Even before it was announced that Driskel was out for the year due to a leg injury during Florida's 31-17 victory over Tennessee Saturday, Florida fans had already jumped on the bandwagon of backup quarterback Tyler Murphy. The message boards lit up and the tweets were flying.
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"We've finally found a quarterback!"
"Driskel's never looked this good!"
"Tyler Murphy has command of the offense and better field vision!"
Glad Gator fans are behind their new quarterback (this week), and good for Murphy for coming in and leading UF to victory Saturday. But, come on, let's not overreact here. Murphy had 218 total yards of offense Saturday against a Tennessee defense that gave up 650 yards in the first three quarters against Oregon last week.
Sadly for Driskel, the final memories of him this season will be his three costly turnovers in the loss to Miami two weeks ago and a pick-6 for a Tennessee touchdown Saturday on the play where he broke his leg. Poor kid. I mean, really, is there any worse way to end your season?
"I'm disappointed for Jeff because he's worked extremely hard for this season," Florida coach Will Muschamp said after the Gators had disposed of the Vols for the ninth straight time. "One man's misfortunes are another man's opportunities. Tyler Murphy certainly took advantage of his opportunity. He's a great example of a guy who showed that when your number is called at the University of Florida, you better respond at a high level."
It's too bad Driskel has to go out like this, but Gator fans are desperately hoping that maybe, just maybe, Murphy can provide a spark to an offense that has been abysmal for most of Driskel's time as starter. Obviously, Florida's offensive woes have not all been Driskel's fault, but sometimes a quarterback switch can ignite something in an offense.
All you had to do is look at the man who was leading cheers before the game to imagine the possibilities of what can happen when you change quarterbacks. Danny Wuerffel, Florida's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from the 1990s, attended the game as UF's "Celebrity Mr. Two Bits" and worked the crowd into a pre-game frenzy with his own rendition of Florida's famous "Two Bits" cheer. Wuerffel, during his playing days, came in as a relief pitcher for Terry Dean, and the rest is SEC history.
Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not saying Murphy will become the next Wuerffel based on his performance Saturday. He was, after all, only 8-of-14 for 134 passing yards and ran 10 times for 84 yards. Not exactly Johnny Football numbers, but pretty impressive for a guy who had never thrown a college pass until Saturday.
The question is what will happen to the Gators when they start playing real teams with real defenses. There is certainly the very real possibility Murphy's performance Saturday was fool's gold against a Rocky Top program that is now at rock bottom.
Seeing Wuerffel on the field Saturday was a sad reminder of what this rivalry used to be. Back in the day, Wuerffel and Peyton Manning would go head-to-head with Heisman Trophies, SEC titles and national championships riding on the outcome. I used to refer to this rivalry as the "Southern Super Bowl" but Tennessee's ineptitude has turned it into a one-sided Stupor Bowl. Tennessee has lost 9 in a row in the series, 10 in a row on the road and 18 in a row to ranked teams. The Vols are coming off a 59-14 loss Saturday at Oregon — UT's most lopsided defeat since 1910.
And, so, here we are three games into the season, and we still have no idea if Florida's offense is any better than it was last year or the year before. Let's face it, the Gators have played Toledo, Miami and Tennessee — three teams with weak, meek defenses.
We do know the Gators once again have a dominating defense, but we know absolutely nothing about an offense that has had Florida fans grumbling since Muschamp took over as coach.
Two years ago under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, Florida's offense was ranked 105th out of 120 teams in the country. Last year under offensive coordinator Brent Pease, Florida's offense was ranked 103rd in the country. Coming into Saturday's game, the Gators were dead last in the SEC in scoring offense.
Now, their starting quarterback is out for the year and the backup has never played a meaningful minute until Saturday.
The good news for Florida fans is this:
No matter who the quarterback is, the offense really can't get any worse than it was before.
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