A quick analysis of the "Burton Package"

Trey Burton lining up at quarterback evokes a lot of responses from Gator fans, and because the opinions of his effectiveness vary so widely, I wanted to take a quick objective look at the effectiveness of the "Burton Package." To do this I went through final stats for 11 games -- each regular season game except for the Kentucky contest, which he missed due to injury. My methodology is described below:

  • I counted any Burton run or pass as a "Burton Package" play unless I could determine with certainty that the play in question was some sort of a special teams fake (and there were a few). I elected to do this because I did not recall any instance in which Burton took a handoff out of a conventional formation. If he did, it is included here in error.
  • Most schools (though not all) make a note in the play-by-play when there is a change at quarterback. As such, I also counted those instances where I could confirm that Burton lined up at quarterback but another player (generally Hines or Patton) took a handoff. There is no universal standard for distinguishing between quarterbacks, however, and some scorekeepers fail to do so at all. As such, it is possible that there is some undercounting in my sample.

This is obviously an imprecise analysis, but it is the only way I can figure out how to go about examining the issue without re-watching every game (if someone has another method, please do share). You could not pay me enough money to re-watch the 2012 Cocktail Party, so this is what y'all get. On to the results.

  • I counted 43 instances in which Florida employed the Burton package.
  • On a set of downs where the Burton Package was used at least once, Florida subsequently earned a first down (or scored a touchdown if there was goal-to-go) 60 percent of the time.
  • Florida used the Burton Package on 32 drives, 21 of which ended in a score. There were 11 touchdowns and 10 field goals. Three ended in a fumble, though only one on a Burton Package play (against Georgia). Eight drives ended in punts.
  • Burton Package plays averaged 6.8 yards. If we remove the 80-yard run against Tennessee, that average drops to 4.9. The median gain was 4.0. Plays out of the package went for one yard or less 30 percent of the time.
  • Including the Tennessee run, the Burton Packaged produced plays of at least 10 yards in nine instances, or about one out of every five times. These nine "big" plays were spread out over seven games -- UT, LSU, Vandy, USC, Mizzou, Jax State, and FSU.
  • The Burton Package was employed on 3rd and short (less than five yards to go) a total of four times. It picked up the first down every time.
  • UF utilized the Burton Package inside the opponent's red zone on 11 drives. All resulted in scores -- five field goals and six touchdowns. For perspective on this stat, UF scored 84 percent of the time it reached the redzone and scored a touchdown 52 percent of the time. The Burton Package produced proportionally more scores but slightly fewer touchdowns.

So overall, somewhat of a mixed bag. The Burton Package produced some of the season's most important plays against Tennessee, LSU, and FSU (that 24-yard run late in the third quarter with UF down a touchdown was big, even if it only resulted in a field goal). It also produced a serious negative play against Georgia, and nearly one-third of the time it produced less than two yards -- or worse.

Prior to this quick analysis, I was generally in the camp that the package is OK when used sparingly. I think I am still of that opinion, and an average of four times per game seems about right, especially if Driskel is going to be available for fewer option plays or designed runs this year.

What do y'all think?

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