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Saturday September 22, 2012Gators Adjust in Burton's Absence

Gainesville, Fla.

Chris Harry
By Chris Harry Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- While his Florida Gators were beating Kentucky 38-0 on Saturday, junior Trey Burton was kicked back in the south end zone training room at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium getting treatment on his sore back.

The UF-UK game occupied most of his attention, but Burton couldn't help but watch the Twitter feed rolling across his cell phone screen.

"It was crazy, man," Burton said in the Florida locker room after the game. "It just goes to show you how clueless everybody is."

A flurry of back spasms Friday night sidelined Burton for the game, yet Twitter was spewing Saturday afternoon with rumors as to why UF's do-everything guy wasn't in the game after his spectacular performance -- touchdowns runs of 14 and 80 yards -- last week at Tennessee.

Burton and UF defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who sat out the game with a sore knee, had some good laughs over some of the comments/speculation, some of which touched on some pretty personal matters.

"You can't do nothing about it," Burton shrugged. "Just roll with it."

That was pretty much Will Muschamp's thinking when his cell phone buzzed Friday at 9:46 a.m. and head athletic trainer Anthony Pass informed the UF coach about Burton's back. 

"Not good," Muschamp said.

The sports health staff had worked on him all day, into the night and even early Saturday morning.

"Every time he planted on his right foot he had pain shooting up his right hip," Muschamp said.

Losing an F-back is one thing, but with No. 8 there is a domino effect.

Burton's ability to be the jack of so many positions -- flanker, tight end, slot, running back, quarterback -- allows offensive coordinator Brent Pease a bunch of play-calling options. But just as critical is Burton's value on special teams, where he lines up on virtually every kick or kick return situation and captains the units.

The Gators adjusted.

"Like Coach Muschamp always says, 'Man down, man up!' " Burton said.

In this case, versatile guy down, lots of guys up.

On offense, UF spread the ball around to 10 different receivers. On special teams, they didn't reel off any long returns or block any kicks, but there weren't any glaring miscommunications or breakdowns, either.

"It's tough when you lose a guy who does so much stuff and you rely so much on calls he makes on the field and on punt and punt return and all the different things he does for your football team," Muschamp said. "Very difficult to deal with."

The Gators managed just fine, courtesy of the "man down" theory and now will have the benefit of a bye week to let not only Burton and Easley rest, but also afford recovery time to tight end Jordan Reed and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, both of whom injured shoulders in the game but should be fine.

Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb), offensive tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and cornerback Cody Riggs (foot) will also reap some rest from the open date, with a showdown against LSU, currently ranked No. 2, slated for Oct. 6 at Florida Field.


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