Florida starting quarterback Jeff Driskel will miss the remainder of the 2013 season thanks to an injury suffered in the first quarter of Florida's 31-17 win over Tennessee on Saturday, according to Florida coach Will Muschamp.
Driskel was hit around his lower legs on a pass play in the first quarter. The pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Tennessee, but Driskel remained on the field long after the play was over, and had to be helped to the sideline.
Muschamp told reporters that Driskel suffered an injury to his right "fibia," likely confusing the fibula and tibia, the two major bones of the lower leg. Update, 12:20 p.m. Sunday: In a video released Sunday, GatorZone's Kyle Benzion referred to the injury as a "broken fibula." As the injury requires surgery, it is likely a fracture of at least one bone — and if it was close to his ankle, it could also require rehabilitation that would likely extend well beyond the 2013 season.
Muschamp told CBS's Tracy Wolfson at the half that Driskel would be out for the game, but told reporters after the game that he was informed in the late first half that Driskel's injury would require surgery. Driskel left the sidelines on crutches in the first quarter, and was not seen after that.
Tyler Murphy replaced Driskel, and led Florida to its ninth straight victory over the Vols with a nice mix of passing and running. Prior to this game, Murphy had never thrown a pass in a collegiate game, despite coming to Florida in 2010 as one of the final recruits in Urban Meyer's final recruiting class. Murphy redshirted in 2010, then sat and waited over the last two years, working his way up to the second string this offseason.
Florida will have a chance to bring Murphy along relatively slowly: Its next two games are against Kentucky and Arkansas, two of the lesser teams in the SEC in 2013, which should allow Murphy to get more comfortable with the first-team offense. After that, though, it gets treacherous: Florida's final seven games of the 2013 season included matchups with top-10 teams LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida State, and the Gators get only the Seminoles in Gainesville.
My best wishes and thoughts go out to Driskel, who has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune for the better part of two years thanks to his inconsistency despite leading Florida to an 11-win season and a Sugar Bowl berth in 2012. And my hopes are with Murphy — who may need them.
Andy Hutchins is Alligator Army's managing editor. Follow Alligator Army on Twitter and Facebook.