GatorZone.com Senior Writer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Even for the most optimistic Florida fan -- you know, like the guy watching the game in his orange and blue man cave while wearing his Gators pajamas -- the numbers from Saturday night’s 37-20 defeat of rival Tennessee had to be staggering.
Total offense: 555 yards
Rushing yards: 336
Three touchdown drives of at least 70 yards in three or less plays.
Heck, it had to be surprising to the guys in the Florida locker room.
“Not at all,” junior all-purpose back Trey Burton said with a smile and shake of his head. “Doesn’t matter what people may think, we have really, really good playmakers on this team. We call ourselves ‘sleepers’ because no one knows about us, but they’ll find out about us soon enough.”
It may hard to believe, but Burton actually includes himself in that “sleeper” set. Yes, the guy who as a freshman in 2010 scored 11 touchdowns, including a school-record (and Red Grange-like) six in one game.
“That was two years ago,” he said. “I haven’t done much in a while.”
Maybe, but Burton showed the Volunteers and an ESPN audience that he hadn’t forgotten how to do it when he scored Florida’s first two touchdowns, including an 80-yard dash that both stunned and silenced the crowd of 102,455.
Oh, and tied the game at a most pivotal juncture.
In the past two years, Burton has lined up all over the field -- flanker, tight end, tailback, fullback, wideout and quarterback -- so there’s no use trying to pigeonhole him to a position.
“He’s just a football player,” Coach Will Muschamp said.
Against the Vols, Burton was back in that familiar “Wildcat” spot he played so often the last two seasons and scored twice on play-fake keepers, once to each side.
The first came on Florida’s second possession after an interception started the Gators at the UT 35. Two plays later, Burton broke the huddle in the shotgun -- with quarterback Jeff Driskel split wide right -- and faked to Andre DeBose coming in motion for the sweep look, then took off around left end and scored to put Florida ahead 7-0 midway through the first period.
Tennessee led 20-13 with less than four minutes to play in the third period when the Gators, after a UT punt, started at their own 20 and the series began with Burton back in the gun.
“Same play as before, but to the opposite side,” he said.
And with the same result, but with SportsCenter-like flash.
Again, there was the fake to Debose, again with Burton keeping, only this time moving right. He hit a crease -- courtesy of a nice block from fullback Hunter Joyer -- and took the ball to the sideline and sprinted 80 yards to tie the game, while punching the Vols and their fans in the collective gut.
“I knew he was fast, but I didn’t know he was that fast,” said Driskel, who tried to trail the play coming from the far side, but only saw the back of No. 8’s jersey shrinking in the distance. “It was awesome. Just a huge play for us.”
Burton had not made one like that in a while. To be honest, the Gators -- collectively -- haven’t made very many like that in a while.
Against the Vols, they came in bunches.
Maybe SEC defenses won't sleep on the UF's so-called “sleepers” anymore.
Burton, if you consider him one, snoozed the Vols for three carries for 91 yards and the two scores, plus two receptions for 38 more yards.
“It’s about the opportunity,” Burton said. “In this game, when you get an opportunity to make a play, you have to take advantage of it.”