After starting slow for their first three games, the No. 8/9 Florida Gators (4-0, 2-0 SEC) came out of the gates strong Saturday night en route to a dominating 48-14 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats (3-1, 0-1 SEC) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes.
Freshman quarterback Trey Burton was obviously the man of the match for the Gators on Saturday, setting a Florida record for most touchdowns in the game with six. He surpassed Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow’s five touchdown performance against South Carolina in 2007 (Tebow also had two passing scores), and also set a school record for total points by a non-kicker (36). Above all else, Burton proved that the Gators have other weapons besides junior running back Jeff Demps, and his versatility was an important factor in the team’s dominating performance Saturday evening.
“Trey Burton was fantastic. Someone told me he had six touchdowns. Six touchdowns. There’s a lot of great players who have played in this stadium, and I think he broke some record. That’s tremendous,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “I thought he was a good player when we recruited him, a really good player. We had no idea what we had until we figured it out during training camp. Versatility, the intelligence, the competitiveness, those are things you just don’t know until you get your hands on a player.”
DEBOSE GETS SOME THROWS
After barely seeing the field during the first three weeks of the season, redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose made his true debut in impressive fashion during the first quarter on Saturday. On Florida’s first series, he caught a 14-yard pass and a seven-yard pass to help the Gators score their first points in the first quarter all season. He also had catches of seven and eight yards to finish the first quarter with a team-high 36 yards. “It feels really good,” Debose said after the game. “I’ve been practicing really hard this week. That made feel really ready for tonight.”
Meyer noted that Debose’s plays in the first quarter were scripted, which is part of the reason he did not see much action the rest of the game. “That was on purpose. He earned that,” Meyer said of Debose’s touches. “All you gotta do is practice well, and Debose will be nonexistent next week if he doesn’t practice well. Florida may be a little different. You earn your right to get on that field, and he actually earned that right this week during practice. He did a great job. […] No, he wasn’t [practicing well in previous weeks]. It was not because he wasn’t trying; it was just because the multitude – it’s that deer in the headlights look. He really locked in this week, and we simplified some things.”
ENTIRE OFFENSIVE LINE BANGED UP
Anyone who watched the game noticed that, at one time or another, seemingly every starting offensive lineman was down with a lower leg injury. Turns out, every starting offensive lineman did suffer a lower leg injury. “At one point, every one of our linemen either had a sprained ankle or swollen knee, and they battled through it,” Meyer said. “We were close to TKO there, and they fought through it.” None are expected to be limited going into next week’s game at Alabama.
Also of note is the fact that redshirt senior Marcus Gilbert, the team’s right tackle who had been starting at left tackle with sophomore Xavier Nixon out of commission, was moved back to left tackle against Kentucky. Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio made the move to make the line more stable, placing the younger Nixon at right tackle. Chances are, based on the performance of the unit Saturday, this is a permanent decision.
FIRST QUARTER FIRSTS
Coming into Saturday’s game, Florida had not scored a single point in the first quarter in any of its first three contests. As Meyer preached to the media and players during the week, the Gators made it a point to start strong against the Wildcats, putting up a pair of touchdowns in the opening period. Brantley came out throwing, and Debose’s presence provided UF with that extra bit of explosiveness the team has apparently needed.
THREE IS A CHARM FOR THREE FLORIDA DEFENDERS
Senior safety Ahmad Black came into the Kentucky game with three interceptions on the season. It was probably a bit of a surprise for many to see redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown and sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic join him in that club after each picked off Kentucky QB Mike Hartline. Brown returned his for a touchdown, high-stepping into the end zone; though his other two interceptions were also impressive, this one could very well be the most memorable for a player who struggled through back injuries for two years. The Gators lead the nation with 12 interceptions as a team.
INJURIES AND ABSENCES
Demps, after running the ball eight times for 57 yards, left the game at the beginning of the second half with what Meyer believes his a sprained foot. Apparently Demps hurt the same foot last week and aggravated the injury during the game. “Dempsy has a foot that they’re taking a look at. He hurt it last week, we’re hoping it’s just a sprained foot,” Meyer said. The Miami Herald reports that Demps had an X-ray on his foot last night, most likely to make sure it was not broken or fractured.
Redshirt senior defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh (stitches, hamstring) and Brandon Antwine (shoulder) also missed the Kentucky game, but Meyer was confident that both would be back in action at Alabama next Saturday. Freshman defensive lineman Dominique Easley (foot, funeral) missed a bunch of practice this week; whether or not he will be ready for the following game is up in the air.
QUOTES (After the break…)
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