In Urban Meyer's 100th career victory, Trey Burton became a folk hero with his six touchdowns in Florida's 48-14 win over Kentucky. The Gators (No. 9, 4-0, 2-0 SEC) finally were effective on offense with 466 yards, using the Burton Bandwagon to close drives in the red zone.
The Gators finally scored in the first quarter, with a Burton score off an option keeper in the wildcat starting the game. Burton also caught a touchdown pass in the first from John Brantley. As the half ended, the Gators needed a spark as they reverted back to the lackluster form that has haunted their offense early this season. The Gators opening drive of the 3rd was 11 plays ending with another Burton score. When UK rolled down the field to answer, The Gators rallied with another Burton running touchdown. The freshman would have two touchdowns in the 4th quarter too.
It's hard to gauge Burton's success. Is he a clear option as an H-back/tight end? Or is he going to take playing time from Brantley, who was 24/35 for 248 yards, with a touchdown and an interception? Burton also took touches when Jeff Demps left the game with a sprained foot and Mike Gillislee was kept in the bullpen far too long for my tastes. Burton's 40 yards rushing, 37 yards receiving and 42 yards passing gives UF an everything back they have lacked. Demps is fast, but broke down tonight after 57 yards on eight carries. Emmanuel Moody had 10 carries for 46 yards, but he doesn't have a spark like Demps or Burton has. Gillislee is a bruising back, but not a pass catcher. Burton as a tight end or H-back is a wrinkle that cannot be contained.
Defensively, the Gators were occasionally sloppy, allowing a few big passes to Kentucky and a few almost big passes. Freshman Cody Riggs was getting picked on after Jeremy Brown's 52 yard pick six in the second quarter. Jon Bostic also had a pick, dropping into a zone and in front of Randall Cobb. The Gators handled Cobb (70 yards on 9 touches) and Derrick Locke (113 on 26 touches). UF only allowed 99 yards on the ground, but 253 in the air. The Gators cannot get any pass rush, even if they blitz. Unless UF was sending six, and mixing up the look, Mike Hartline (21/39, 242, 1 TD, 2 INT) was able to find his players. Florida has to figure out some way to get a better push with only four rushers.
The Gators might not stack up to Alabama on Saturday, but that should not matter. It is becoming clearer that the Gators are willing to look outside the box by using Burton and continuing to ask Carl Moore (4 catches, 72 yards) and Deonte Thompson (5 catches, 86 yards) to convert 3rd downs. At the minimum, UF is adding offensive options.
The Gators play Alabama on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa.