Film room: Star quarterback Maalik Murphy has big-time potential

Murphy warms up before Duke's spring game
Murphy warms up before Duke's spring game

The addition of quarterback Maalik Murphy was perhaps the Blue Devils’ most exciting move during Manny Diaz’s first offseason as Duke Football coach. With the start of the season only a few months away, the Blue-Zone breaks some of Murphy’s film to give Blue Devil fans an idea of what to expect from the presumptive starter:

Duke’s biggest splash in the transfer portal was the addition of former Texas quarterback Maalik Murphy, who comes in with clear potential and big-time attributes. In his one season with the Longhorns, Murphy stepped in to replace injured starting quarterback Quinn Ewers for two games — winning both. 

Texas’ victories with Murphy under center were crucial for advancing to the College Football Playoff. While Murphy made some mistakes typical of a freshman starter, he led his team to victory and stepped up to the plate when it mattered. The Inglewood, Calif. native joins the Blue Devils as a redshirt sophomore and as the expected starting quarterback. However, according to head coach Manny Diaz, there is still a three-way competition between him, Grayson Loftis and Henry Belin IV for the starting job. 

Murphy was a highly touted four-star recruit, particularly known for his arm strength and size. Here he is rifling a ball down the middle of the field against Rice, demonstrating an elite combination of accuracy and velocity with the football. His ability to fit throws in tight windows is special, as seen in the video below.

The Junípero Serra High School alum frequently uses the deep ball in his arsenal, a product of his true arm strength. Duke notably struggled throwing the ball down the field last season, so by bringing in Murphy and former SMU offensive coordinator Jonathan Brewer, Diaz will hope to stretch the offense out more. In Murphy’s limited time on the field last season, he made multiple 30-yard completions. Watch as Murphy connects with receiver A.D. Mitchell on a beautifully thrown deep shot against Kansas State.

While Murphy’s arm talent is indisputable, he has dealt with accuracy issues and a tendency to overthrow the football, demonstrated by his unimpressive 56.3% completion last season. The former Longhorn sometimes struggles on short and intermediate throws, and while his release is typically smooth, he has a tendency to overaim and sometimes misfire on some passes. Here he is in the Blue Devils’ spring game attempting to connect with an open wide receiver in Jordan Moore. 

Despite his 6-foot-5, 235-pound stature, Murphy did not run the ball much for Texas, ending last season with negative total rushing yards as the Longhorn coaches aimed to protect him from injury. Due to his youth, Murphy still needs to develop his pocket awareness skills, as evidenced by this clip below where the quarterback makes an ill-advised throw after a mistimed snap.  

Whether Brewer opts to use Murphy in the running game is to be determined, but the Inglewood native will definitely be a tough tackle given his frame. 

Murphy is undeniably talented, and his coaches have raved about his maturity and leadership in the spring. However, Duke is undergoing significant change in the trenches, and one of the biggest question marks will be offensive line play. A lack of consistent protection could be a hindrance to Murphy’s immediate success. 

It’s important to note that the redshirt sophomore has only played meaningful snaps in two games, so it may take some time for him to get adjusted to being a full-time starter. Regardless, Murphy seems to have a great head on his shoulders, and with more college football experience under his belt, he has the talent to be one of the better quarterbacks in the ACC. 

Ranjan Jindal profile
Ranjan Jindal | Sports Editor

Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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