When it comes to college football, creativity is rewarded. If you are just an NFL fan, you are just starting to get a taste of the type of creativity that college football has enjoyed for so long. Often, players are put in multiple positions and given a wide range of roles. It’s all about maximizing the athletic ability of your best players and using those athletes to create the mismatches that are the bread and butter of successful teams.
This all pertains to the Florida Gators with wide receiver Trey Burton. Going back to when Burton was a freshman at Florida, the plan was for him to be a quarterback. But with starting quarterback John Brantley in place, Burton instead was moved around between running back, wide receiver, quarterback, tight end and on coverage teams. His statistics weren’t overwhelming, but you could see that the Gators were committed to finding ways to get the football in his hands.
2011 and 2012 saw his role diminished slightly because of the emergence of quarterback Jeff Driskel and other skill position players. His production dwindled as he transitioned almost completely to a wide receiver for the Gators. With his role in the offense shrinking, the Gators offense became less dynamic and explosive along with it. I’ve always been a fan of Burton and have never felt that he is utilized properly.
So what do the Gators do with Burton in 2013? With a pretty serious exodus of offensive talent, including their top running back and pass catcher, Driskel and the offense will have to look other players to generate yards and touchdowns. That player should be Burton. He has ideal size at 6-2 and 229lbs with 4.5 speed and a tremendous skill set. He’s got impressive football instincts, a high IQ and is comfortable at a number of spots.
If I were head coach Will Muschamp, I would use Burton primarily in two roles. First, as a wide receiver. He’s really developing as a route runner, has great hands and is deadly in the open field after the catch. This team needs a reliable pass catcher and Burton looks to be the best on the team.
But I would also use him as a zone read quarterback whenever possible. He might not be the thrower that Driskel is, but there’s no reason he can’t see the field more as a runner. I’d even run the zone read with Burton as running back and Driskel at quarterback. Having two quarterbacks who can run the football as well as Driskel and Burton is a good problem to have. The Gators coaching staff just have to get a little more creative in how they use them, especially Burton.
If the Gators want to win next year, they need to look at how Burton was used as a freshman and expand even on that if they want to win. There are head coaches all over the country who would kill to have a player like him starting at quarterback for their team, so the idea that he doesn’t touch the ball more is an indictment of the Gators scheme.