AUSTIN (KXAN) — Maalik Murphy isn’t trying to be anybody but himself while he has the reins of the high-powered Texas Longhorns offense.
As the backup quarterback coming into the season, Murphy filled in admirably for Quinn Ewers against BYU on Saturday, throwing a pair of touchdowns to Adonai Mitchell and completing 64% of his passes for 170 yards. He threw an interception that he admitted was a “young mistake” and lost a fumble after getting hit from his blind side, but in the end, he was still dancing around the field and keeping it loose.
“That’s just my personality,” he said after the game. “The coaches told me not to change and just to be me, so that’s what I did. I was dancing and enjoying my time out there.”
Support from his teammates is something Murphy said helped him adjust to being the main guy while Ewers is, according to head coach Steve Sarkisian, “week-to-week” with a shoulder injury. Personalities align and they genuinely like to be around each other, and Murphy said that’s a big reason why he felt so at ease coming into the game.
After he threw the interception in the first quarter, his guys were right there to pick him up and reassure him that they still believed in him.
“I put the ball in harm’s way, but I was able to bounce back and the team bounced back with me,” Murphy said. “They didn’t get down on me and everybody said let’s keep going and put our foot on the gas and that’s what we did.”
Sarkisian said the interception and the lost fumble were “unfortunate” for Murphy, but the way his young signal-caller elevated his game instead of crumbling under the pressure was impressive.
“He had a really good composure about him,” Sarkisian said. “I was proud of how he handled that.”
Sarkisian called nine passes in the game’s opening 10 plays so Murphy could get settled in. His thought process behind that was to get Murphy acclimated to game speed as early as he could, and having him put the ball in the air was the way to do it.
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“A good way to get rid of any jitters a guy might have is to let him go play,” Sarkisian said. “When I was a quarterback and it was my first time out there, give me some throws. Don’t make me wait until it’s third-and-9 and I have to go make a play. There were things in there that got him playing football again. It was good for him and good for us.”
A 4-star recruit out of Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, California, Murphy could have seen the writing on the wall when Ewers came in and won the starting job last year and transferred to a place with a more direct path to playing time. He’s not that kind of guy, though. He said he wanted to play for Sarkisian, and that’s what he’s going to do.
“I’m an all-in Longhorn,” he said.