Boston College Senior Quarterback Tyler Murphy
As we count down to the Toilet Bowl, a look at the opponent’s main offensive weapon is in order. A dual-threat, fifth year senior quarterback named Tyler Murphy is da man for Boston College.
Murphy is a transfer from second-tier University of Florida. Steve Addazio, now head coach of BC, recruited him down there while he was on Urban Meyer’s staff. Murphy sat on the bench for three years awaiting his opportunity, which finally occurred during 2013 when head coach Will Muschamp was making desperation moves for the hapless Gators. Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel broke his leg against Tennessee, so that was Murphy’s big chance. He finished the Tennessee game and played in six other games at UF.
Alas, Murphy hurt his shoulder against LSU, which led to a mediocre, shortened season, as Muschamp benched him for the remainder of the year after the subsequent humiliating loss to a James Franklin coached Vanderbilt team. Murphy was 39-54 for 530 yards, five TDs, and one interception in games he played against Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas. The shoulder injury was crucial, as he wasn’t effective at all after it: 73-131 for 686 yards, one TD, and four INTs. In his first three games, he had run for 135 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns; the rest of the season he had minus-74 and one touchdown on the ground.
It turned out that Murphy had a third-degree shoulder separation that the team handled as a sprain, and that, along with Muschamp’s criticism of Murphy while playing down the injury, pissed off Murphy and his family. After the season, Murphy did not attend the team’s annual postseason banquet and subsequently transferred to BC. You can read the whole sordid story of his departure at the link given above, if you’re interested.
Because Murphy graduated from UF in December, he could transfer without sitting out the year required of undergraduates by NCAA rules. He had a year of eligibility left and chose to use it, but he displays a level head about staying in school and completing degrees one tends not to see in so-called student-athletes (except when aggrandizing the occasional homey examples we can point to in order to bolster our vaunted opinion of our own semi-pro program).
Football is not a promise to last your whole life, so I wanted to make sure I had a Plan B as well. I wanted to get my master’s and I figured if I had another year of eligibility left, I wanted to take advantage of it. So, instead of being a backup my last year at Florida, I wanted to find a place where I could compete and be a starter.
So that’s when I came to my decision and figured that maybe I should look out and find something else.’’
So, what next?
Tyler Murphy is a native of Wethersfield, Connecticut, so in transferring to Boston College he would be going back to reasonable football weather, albeit with more staid fans than one encounters in a place called “The Swamp.” Addazio felt that Murphy was a ready-made fit for his spread offense and for the future of the program at BC. He replaced Chase Rettig, a 46-game starter who passed for 8,263 yards and 52 touchdowns. Addazio also had two green dual-threat QBs waiting in the wings, freshmen Darius Wade and Troy Flutie, who needed mentoring. Addazio believes Murphy has been guy to show the two fledglings the ropes.
It is sometimes difficult for an upper-classman transfer to fit in, but the team has taken readily to Murphy’s presence and his leadership, especially since he baked cookies for the offensive line in the spring. I’m not joking about this. It was a goodwill gesture he learned as a freshman at Florida from then quarterback John Brantley.
BC hasn’t had a dual-threat quarterback since the days of Doug Flutie, but Addazio is in the process of transmogrifying the program to feature the quarterback role in that fashion. Said Murphy:
Doug Flutie did a good job of just extending plays and moving around the pocket, and giving his receivers more time to get down the field. That’s something I’m really going to take after and just extend plays and that’ll open up plays downfield because receivers will have an extra second or two.
If I can draw some defenders up, it’ll be exciting to see a lot of deep balls go over the top.’’
And, yeah, that will create problems for Penn State’s secondary.
And then, the season…
For the 2014 season, Tyler Murphy completed 120 of 211 passes for 1526 yards with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was sacked 20 times, winding up with an adjusted QBR of 78.9. Rushing, he had 170 carries for 1079 yards, an average of 6.3 yards per carry. He scored 10 touchdowns on the ground and his longest run was 71 yards, against Maine (so it doesn’t count — he had a 66-yard run against a real defense in the USC game.)
Murphy was a more effective rusher than BC’s freshman running back Jon Hilliman, who ran for 712 yards on 185 attempts, scoring 12 touchdowns. Hilliman’s average was 3.8 yards and his long run was 52 yards.
Murphy had 100+ yard rushing games against UMass, USC (191 yds.), NC State, and Vagina Tech. He came close against Pitt (92) and Maine (99).
BC’s losses were pretty close except for Pitt early in the season (30-20) and a blowout at the behest of mighty Louisville (38-19). They lost to #3 Florida State the week before Thanksgiving in a squeaker that wound up 20-17. Otherwise, their losses are similarly close, and to respectable teams: Colorado State (24-21) and Clemson (17-13). Under the K. John “what could have been” dictum, BC could have been 10-2 instead of 7-5 had a few things gone their way. Too bad — they got the Toilet Bowl instead of the Orange Bowl. Sound familiar?
Plenty of Character
After the blowout loss to Louisville, Murphy refused to let his coach take the blame.
“Today falls on me,’’ said Murphy, who completed 7 of 15 passes for 149 yards but was sacked twice and intercepted four times, three by Louisville’s ballhawking safety Gerod Holliman.
“Any time you have a quarterback that throws four interceptions, you’re not going to have a chance to win,” said Murphy.
When asked if any of his four interceptions were caused by Louisville’s pass rush, Murphy said, “Louisville is a great defense and no matter who you play you’re always going to have a hand or two in your face, but as a quarterback you have to deal with that and make the plays and I didn’t do that today.” Run-on sentence aside, this is exemplary of a decent attitude.
“The quarterbacks that win make those plays and I didn’t do that today.”
Murphy is definitely not a pouter or an externalizer.
He couldn’t have done anything without the cookie monsters.
Tyler Murphy gave his linemen gifts of cookies and candy (in the NFL QBs give Rolexes). Murphy forged strong bonds with his offensive line, a seasoned collection of seniors with an aggregate total of 124 career starts. They have been the major key in supporting the Boston College running attack. When asked what he would do for them after the final game of the season, Murphy spoke:
I’ll make ’em a cake or something. But they’ve done a great job, whether it’s been putting guys on the ground, pulling across the formation, or snapping off the ’backers, they’ve just done a great job of moving the guys up front and snapping off and getting to the guys in the second level. It all starts with them.’’
The leader of the offensive line is Bobby Vardaro, a 6’5″, 299 pound fifth year senior with 43 career starts. He speaks words that Penn State’s deficient offensive linemen should harken unto:
The nicest thing for me was that I’ve been with these guys for the last five years. No one from my O-line class is left and once Coach Addazio came in and said he was going to reestablish the run, there were some mixed emotions, because every lineman knows it’s a lot harder to run 60 plays than it is to pass.
But it’s been fun. It kind of stinks when you have to sit back in pass protection and wait for the other guy to make a play. In the run game, we get to make plays and we get to make holes and everybody was pretty excited about it.’’
Addazio has proven to be a master at building an offensive line. When he lost two experienced tackles to graduation, he was able to get fifth year senior Ian Silberman to transfer from Florida to fill one slot and move a backup from last year into the other slot.
Boston College ranks as the 14th best rushing offense in the FBS with over 3000 rushing yards on the season, averaging 5.13 yards per rush. That they favor the run is an understatement, as their passing offense winds up 121st out of 125 teams. Nevertheless, the threat of a pass means defenses cannot load up on the line of scrimmage to stop the run. Having to worry about Murphy as well as a halfway decent running back puts a strain on defenses. I will be interested to see how Penn State’s #1 ranked rushing defense does against Murphy and Hilliman.
So, it’s a flipped situation, with the exception being that Boston College’s running and passing games are both competent. Penn State’s running game is not.
Our friend David Jones (LOL) of the Patriot-News says:
… Murphy [has] flourished as the prototype dual-option threat for the Eagles. He a slippery runner who gets to the edge quickly. Coordinator Ryan Day, who played for Chip Kelly at New Hampshire, runs an offense that finds ways to maximize Murphy’s abilities with lots of width, fly sweeps, zone-read, counter treys and other misdirection.”
That’s precisely the kind of wide-open play that could confound the vaunted Penn State defense. I’m interested in your thoughts on the matchup, so don’t hold back!
That’s it for this Tyler Murphy get-acquainted session. I’ll be back with more on the Boston College vs. Penn State matchup, in which Penn State has opened as a 3.5 point underdog.