Call Tyler Murphy a ‘game manager.’ The redshirt junior is not offended.
Neither is his coach, Will Muschamp. To them, the phrase “game manager” implies a quarterback who moves the football, converts third downs and puts his team in a position to win.
“That’s one of the greatest compliments you can have as a quarterback, ‘is a game manager,’” Muschamp said. “A guy that does what he’s supposed to do. I don’t know where that became a bad word in the coaching profession, but that’s what I think anyways.”
Muschamp mentioned Tom Brady as a game manager while describing Murphy after No. 17 Florida defeated Arkansas on Saturday. Brady, who is likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer, does what the third-year coach wants from all of his quarterbacks — maintain complete control of the game at all times.
Since taking over for an injured Jeff Driskel during the first quarter against Tennessee, Murphy has looked the part of Muschamp’s ideal game manager. He addressed the media on Monday wearing a gray Nike Dri-FIT shirt with “CONSISTENCY” written across his chest. Considering his play during the past three weeks, he could not have picked more appropriate attire.
Murphy has completed 72 percent of his passes while tossing five touchdowns and just one interception. He is third in the Southeastern Conference in passing efficiency behind LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, who Murphy said he attempts to emulate on the field, is seventh in the conference in passing efficiency. Murphy considers McCarron the perfect game manager.
“I try to copycat A.J. McCarron a little bit,” Murphy said. “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.”
McCarron returned for his senior season in pursuit of a third-straight national championship. At a school that has boasted quarterbacks Joe Namath and Kenny Stabler, McCarron might outshine them all when his college career is finished.
He’s already the Alabama career touchdown leader and has a realistic shot at breaking most of the school’s remaining 10 passing records.
Murphy is in a much different situation than McCarron, but he has received plenty of support from his teammates.
“He’s doing an awesome job. He keeps a positive attitude on the sidelines,” senior Solomon Patton said. “If we come out without scoring, or a turnover, he definitely comes and communicates with us and makes sure we don’t drop our heads and (makes sure we) stay on the right track.”
Does Murphy find it odd he is emulating an opposing quarterback — one that stands as a likely obstacle to an SEC Championship? Not at all, he said. The results speak for themselves.
“Any time there’s a guy with several rings on his finger, he’s doing something right,” Murphy said. “A.J. has been doing a great job. Hopefully, I would like to be a national champion and win some SEC championships. He has been winning, so whatever he’s doing, he has been doing it right. I’m trying to figure out what he’s doing and copy what he’s doing well.”
Follow Adam Pincus on Twitter @adamDpincus.