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Get Ready For Florida’s Burton Package

trey-burton-p1Quarterback?  Running back?  Wide receiver?  Florida senior Trey Burton can play them all.  And according to Will Muschamp, he probably will this fall.

“He’s going to be in the slot for us and does a lot for us there,” the Gator coach said.  “We obviously will have a Trey Burton package, which was very effective for us last year.”

Burton played in 12 of the Gators’ 13 games a year ago.  As a rusher he gained 190 yards on 29 carries (a healthy 6.55 yards-per-carry average).  As a receiver he pulled in 18 passes for 172 yards.  As a passer he completed three of four passes for four yards.  He also returned three kicks for 33 yards.

All told, Burton scored three touchdowns on the season and accounted for 194 yards.  Here’s guessing most Florida fans wouldn’t ditto Muschamp’s “very effective” assessment.

An argument can certainly be made that Burton would have been more effective had he been given more touches last year.  He amassed just 51 which is a tad more than four per contest.

With quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Matt Jones both out for now with health issues, Burton should be getting more work at practice.  For his part, he’s A-OK with offensive coordinator Brent Pease lining up in different spots.

“If I played nothing but running back, I’d be behind Mike Gillislee and I probably wouldn’t have played one game last year,” Burton told The Gainesville Sun.  “If I played nothing but wide receiver, I probably wouldn’t have played at all either.  So I’m just going to do whatever I possibly can to get on the field.”

That’s a great attitude to have and here’s hoping he will be able to make the most of a few added touches this fall.  But the fact of the matter remains… Burton appears to be more versatile than effective.

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SEC Headlines – 11/16/11 Part Two

1.  Florida’s injury list keeps getting longer.

2.  Charlie Weis says he’s not going to use Trey Burton as a jack-of-all-trades next year.

3.  Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is focused on championships, not individual honors.

4.  Mark Richt’s offseason moves appear to have worked.

5.  Injuries are cutting into Kentucky’s defense.  (Obvious one-liner: What Kentucky defense?)

6.  The basketball Cats showed off some scary potential last night… and everyone but John Calipari seems willing to admit it.

7.  South Carolina star Marcus Lattimore is expected to finally have surgery on his injured knee this week.

8.  With The Citadel visiting Columbia on Saturday, Steve Spurrier has reminded his team of the Bulldogs 38-35 upset of the Cocks back in 1990.

9.  Derek Dooley may wait until pregame warm-ups before deciding if Tyler Bray will play on Saturday.

10.  Tennessee’s coach is using a new motivational tool with his team — a ceramic orange dog.

11.  Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers sees some similarities between himself and little brother Jordan… who’s leading an improved Vanderbilt offense.

12.  Commodore receiver Jordan Matthews is making a name for himself.

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SEC Headlines 9/4/2011 Part Three

South Carolina 56 –  East Carolina 37

1. Gamecocks rally from 17-0 deficit.

2. Connor Shaw out – Stephen Garcia in.  Result? 49 points in a 28-minute span.

3. Spurrier vetoes suggestion to give Garcia a game ball but the senior QB will start against Georgia.

4. 16 tackles for defensive tackle Antonio Allen.

Tennessee 42 – Montana 16

5. Tyler Bray throws for 293 yards but only 129 rushing yards on 45 attempts.

6. John Adams: “Passing was a breeze. Running was a source of frustration.”

7. Derek Dooley: “I thought we were much improved defensively.”

Vanderbilt 45 – Elon 14

8. Commodores win in James Franklin’s debut.

9. Went for it three times on fourth down.

Florida 41 – Florida Atlanta 3

10.   The Will Muschamp era begins with a win.

11. 468 yards of offense for the Gators.

12. Trey Burton injured, Sharrif Floyd declared ineligible.

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SEC Headlines – 8/16/11 Part One

1.  Florida sophomore Ronald Powell hopes to live up to the hype that made him America’s top prospect in 2010.

2.  This writer wonders how is Florida going to us Trey Burton this year.

3.  Gator cornerback Moses Jenkins is finally healthy again.

4.  Despite another scooter-related injury, Mark Richt isn’t banning his players from using them around the Georgia campus.

5.  AD Greg McGarity says scooters are just part of campus life.

6.  Richt is making a concentrated effort to bring more energy and enthusiasm into the Dawgs’ football program.

7.  John Calipari’s Dominican Republic national team whipped a team of ex-Kentucky greats by 18 in a Rupp Arena exhibition last night.

8.  Steve Spurrier bragged about his team’s GPA last night and said that South Carolina’s program “is healthier than it has ever been.”

9.  Ellis Johnson isn’t too worried about his defense… yet.

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SEC Headlines – 2/22/11 Part One

1.  Billy Donovan still isn’t “overly optimistic” that Chandler Parsons will play against Georgia on Thursday.

2.  This writer says UF will need a healthy Parsons down the stretch.

3.  Someone has named his prized steer after Gator footballer Trey Burton.

4.  Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray went from having an ankle broken in two places to “just a little sprain” in just a few short hours. 

5.  Welcome to the viral world of news on the internet.  Better to be first than right.

6.  When Kentucky travels to Arkansas tomorrow night, the Hogs’ leading rebounder — Delvon Johnson — will have to play with a hip pointer.

7.  South Carolina’s Darrin Horn says his team — in the midst of a five-game losing streak — has “just got to grow up a little bit.”

8.  The Gamecocks have dealt with inexperience, inconsistency and injuries this season.

9.  Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl says his team’s struggles aren’t “about confidence or effort, it’s about performance.”

10.  Vanderbilt is catching and passing Tennessee for top basketball honors in the Volunteer State.

11.  UT cornerback Art Evans feels blessed to be getting a second chance in Knoxville.

12.  Kevin Stallings believes Tennessee “will be very urgent” when they arrive at Memorial Gym for tonight’s game.

13.  Vandy’s coach believes his team has improved since losing at UT in January.

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Gators still trying to find, fill void after 10 games

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Florida coach Urban Meyer says there's a void in his team. (Orlando Sentinel photo)

It seems that 10 games into the season, the Gators are still searching for the answer to what’s wrong with the team. The options through the course of the season have been many.

First, it was the snaps. Botched snaps and 13 fumbles in the season opener sent the criticism to center Mike Pouncey and QB John Brantley.

A week later, those weren’t totally under control and concerns about John Brantley’s passing blossomed. But the Jeff Demps-led offense was enough to make up for those and some early indications that the Gators might have trouble stopping the run.

Then came the Tennessee win, a slow-starting game that the Gators took thanks to Demps’ 26 carries and the run defense’s best performance of the season.

Beating Kentucky a week later, it seemed to come together. Trey Burton had six touchdowns, Brantley threw better and it was enough for arguably the best win of the season.

Then came a string of three losses – at Alabama and home to LSU and Mississippi State. No Demps meant no big run plays. Protection became an issue. With a total of three sacks allowed in the first five games, the Gators have allowed at least three in each of the past five.

By the bye week, the problem was execution, players and coaches said, ad nauseum. The plays weren’t bad. The players just weren’t doing it.

With a n0-huddle, up-tempo, three-quarterback approach, the Gators won their next two. A turnaround kept them in a position for an SEC Eastern Division title.

But it turns out, the issues didn’t go away. They were just covered up by mediocre-to-bad opponents.

South Carolina forced Florida to reveal what the Gators (hopefully) knew all season – something is missing, and it’s not just Tim Tebow.

“There’s a void in our team right now, somewhere. That’s what I’m trying to figure out what it is. Whether it be energy level, chemistry. There’s a bit of a void,” said coach Urban Meyer. “We’ve got to recruit to it, develop it and coach the mess out of it.”

Instead of execution, it’s now a lack of energy. Seniors say they should have spent more time with the freshman. Pouncey said some players “drift away” during games when things aren’t going so great.

With two remaining games plus a bowl, the Gators are hoping for a strong finish. Meyer said he’s not looking ahead to next season now that the goal of Atlanta is off the table.

But, now that this season can officially be considered a rebuilding year, Meyer and his staff need to pinpoint the void and correct them.

“These next two weeks and then after that, our whole focus is on, I don’t want to use the word rebuild, but we gotta get this place back to where we need to get it.

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Gators still searching for best option at quarterback

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QB John Brantley's struggles were part of the reason the Gators mustered just 226 yards of offense vs. South Carolina. (Photo by Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel)

Faced with a direct question about who is the best option for Florida at quarterback, coach Urban Meyer gave the most telling non-answer he could have.

“I can’t answer that right now,” he said. Then, rather muffled, he added, “Obviously Johnny Brantley with an option quarterback.”

Obviously? Is it obvious to anyone not on the coaching staff that Brantley might not be the best option?

Already, we have seen a two-quarterback system with freshman Trey Burton. Brantley’s not a runner, but Burton can run the option part of the offense that has made Florida successful.

Last week, Florida showed us a three-quarterback system, with Brantley, Burton and redshirt freshman Jordan Reed rotating at the position. A hybrid of the two, Reed is able to throw and run.

But Meyer said Thursday that Reed’s future is at tight end, where he has played since coming to Florida. On Saturday, he gave a hint of why when the Gators were struggling as a whole, and Brantley was struggling mightily on his own, Meyer did not put Reed in the game.

“Jordan’s not functional in everything yet as a quarterback,” Meyer said. “We were going to be in the throwing game trying to come back. We were trying to win that game.”

Brantley was not the best option to do that. Several of his passes were batted down at the line of scrimmage, a few other times he overthrew receivers and he was picked off once. Perhaps most indicative of his struggles was a pass batted behind the line of scrimmage that Brantley caught, giving the Gators a 10-yard loss rather than an incompletion.

To be sure, whoever came next at quarterback was going to have it rough. Tim Tebow was the Florida offense, and filling in for that is a tall order for anyone. But that it has taken three quarterbacks to do attempt it says a lot about the state of that position.

Meyer doesn’t know who the best option is, even though he has stuck by Brantley after the QB waited three years for the starting spot.

Not only does that leave the remaining three games of this season in question, but it makes for an interesting question next season. With four-star recruit Jeff Driskel (Oviedo/Hagerty High) coming in next season, will he challenge Brantley for the starting spot? Driskel can run and throw, something the Gators are currently using three players to accomplish.

Maybe he’s not the cure all for the quarterbacking woes now. But maybe he can answer a question the Gators are still struggling with – who is the best option at quarterback?

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Scouting South Carolina at Florida: What to Watch for When Florida Has the Ball

South Carolina
Content provided by Garnet And Black Attack.

3. Can the Gators Run the Spread Option against the Carolina Defensive Front?

The Gators, now that they’re playing Trey Burton and Jordan Reed, have gotten back to doing what they do best–running the spread option. How will they do against us? It’s hard to say because this will be the best option attack we’ve faced so far this year, but we’ve had enough success against mobile QBs and wildcat packages to make me believe that we can slow down Florida, too.

2. The Three QB System

Due to their inability to move the ball well when John Brantley gets most of the snaps, Florida has moved to a three-QB approach, rotating Brantley, Burton, and Reed. The results, so far, have been positive for the Gators, disproving the old adage that “if you have three QBs, you have no QBs.” Steve Spurrier approves.

1. Matchup: Carolina Pass Defense vs. Florida Passing Game

One of the key’s to this game will perhaps be whether or not the Gators can take advantage of the Carolina defense’s glaring weakness, its pass defense. Florida has been more or less completely unable to consistently throw the ball downfield up until this point. What’s going to give in this game? Will the Carolina secondary finally perform well against a woeful Gators’ passing game, or will the Gators ring up some big passing yards against us, like our other opponents? The answer to that question is going to have a determining effect on this game. If we can slow down the spread option rushing attack, we can force Florida out of their comfort zone and into must-pass situations. The problem is that 3rd-and-long has been the bane of this team thus far this year. That needs to stop this weekend if we’re going to win.

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Florida To Keep Using 3 QBs

The old saying goes like this: Show me a team with two good quarterbacks and I’ll show you a team without one great quarterback. 

That’s not what’s being said in Gainesville today.  Instead, the talk on the Florida campus goes more like this: Show me a very multiple system on offense and I’ll show you the need for three different types of quarterbacks.

Urban Meyer said today that in addition to the split quarterbacking duties of John Brantley (the passer) and Trey Burton (the runner), Jordan Reed will begin to take more snaps from the Wildcat package.  And before you can ask, “Yes, he can throw,” Meyer said.

“We just met and I’m giving you something maybe I shouldn’t give you.  It’s in, it’s done, and he will throw the ball next week, how’s that?  So make sure (Vanderbilt) defends it.”

So was Meyer serious?  Or was he just giving Robbie Caldwell one more thing to worry about?

Guess we’ll all find out on Saturday.

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Florida WR Chris Rainey has big impact in return

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Florida WR Chris Rainey prayed in the end zone after his second-quarter touchdown. (Photo by Gary W. Green, Orlando Sentinel)

Throughout the season, Florida center Mike Pouncey has said WR Chris Rainey is the best player on the Gators’ offense.

Of course, Pouncey is a little biased. Teammates since high school, Pouncey and Rainey have known each other for years.

But Rainey was at least the best player in Saturday’s 34-31 win over Georgia.

In his return from a five-game suspension for his September arrest, Rainey had 241 all-purpose yards. He gave the Gators’ a big-play threat they had lacked while RB Jeff Demps has been out with a sprained foot.

“[Rainey and Demps] are unbelievable.,” said Trey Burton, who himself had a career-high 110 yards rushing. “Those are real special guys and we missed them a lot the last three games.”

Rainey’s performance will be hard for some to swallow.

The redshirt junior from Lakeland texted his on-again, off-again girlfriend “Time to Die (expletive)” and was charged with felony aggravated stalking. Although Rainey agreed to a reduced charge of misdemeanor stalking on Sept. 27, something the victim supported, Meyer has been criticized for not kicking him off the team.

Pouncey said after the game, Rainey was thankful for the opportunity to return.

“Rainey stood up after the game and thanked God for giving him a second chance. He’s taking full advantage of it,” Pouncey said. “He thanked the whole administration — (athletic director) Jeremy Foley and the president — and he thanked God as well. He thanked everyone for giving him a second chance because without Jeremy Foley and President Machen, it wouldn’t be possible for him to play right now.”

Many will say that this type of output – 84 rushing yards, nine receiving and 148 kick0ff return yards – is why Meyer allowed Rainey back, that winning trumped his core values. Only Meyer knows that, and ultimately, he’s the one who has to live with it.

Following the game, Rainey did not speak to the media. Instead, Pouncey spoke for him.

“I love Chris like a brother,” he said. “He’s been living with me since high school, and we have a special relationship. I felt his pain those weeks he was out. He loves football. He’s a great person, and I know that was one of the happiest moments of his life just to be out there with us playing.”

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