GAINESVILLE — It looks like Florida Coach Urban Meyer has figured out that the best way to adjust to life without Tim Tebow is to find himself another Tebow.
Trey Burton, a 6-foot-2, 222-pound freshman quarterback/tight end, made like Tebow Lite against Kentucky on Saturday night, burning the Wildcats for a school-record six touchdowns as the Gators rolled to a 48-14 win over UK in front of 90,547 at Ben Griffin Field.
Burton had five rushing touchdowns out of the Wildcat package and also had a TD reception. He nearly added a touchdown pass to his stat line, as he completed a 42-yarder late in the fourth quarter.
UK tailback Derrick Locke summed up Burton's night as follows: "Dude had six touchdowns; that's some high school stuff."
"He didn't do anything real special," UK defensive coordinator Steve Brown said. "He just did a lot of things that they asked him to do and we weren't in position."
Florida has now won 24 consecutive games against Kentucky, the nation's second-longest such streak behind Tennessee's 25 consecutive wins over the Cats. The UK players felt good about their chances coming into the game and were clearly disappointed afterward.
"I can't take anything from them and say that they're not good," Locke said. "But to say that we can't match up with them, that's bull. We could have matched up with them and played them a whole lot better game, and everybody should know that. I don't know what it is. It's like when Kentucky plays Florida it's a whole 'nother team. I really don't understand it.
"You can't have your head up right now. If you're not embarrassed after this game, something's wrong with you. I'm embarrassed, man, to come down here and lose like this."
UK Coach Joker Phillips pointed to two costly Mike Hartline interceptions (one that resulted in a touchdown) and seven penalties, and the fact that his team was outrushed 176-99 as the key points in the blowout loss.
"To win on the road, especially in this environment, you have to do certain things," Phillips said. "You can't have five-yard penalties, and turnovers for touchdowns. That cannot happen in big games. Little things will cost you in games like this."
The Cats were once again doomed by a poor start against the Gators. UK didn't get any punts blocked, as in years past, but a sluggish early offense and the first-quarter absence of linebacker Danny Trevathan contributed to a 21-0 deficit.
The Wildcats didn't lay down, eventually closing to within 27-14 in the third quarter, but Burton and the Florida offense blew open the game in the final period.
Kentucky went three-and-out on its first drive of the game, and while Ryan Tydlacka got the punt off, he shanked it 31 yards off the side of his foot to set Florida up with decent field position on its possession.
The Gators made it look easy on their first drive, going 64 yards in six plays. Brantley went 3-of-4 for 42 yards, Jeff Demps picked up 17 on an option pitch, and Burton took it up the middle 11 yards for a score to give Florida a quick 7-0 lead at 11:09. It was the first time the Gators scored in the first quarter all season.
Trevathan, UK's leading tackler, had to sit out the first quarter for disciplinary reasons, and his absence was felt. After Kentucky's second drive produced nothing, Florida marched 85 yards on 12 plays, with Burton getting his second TD on an 11-yard pass from Brantley at 2:40 to put the Cats in a 14-0 hole.
The Kentucky defense stiffened in the second quarter and came up with a turnover when Dakotah Tyler tipped a Brantley pass to Ridge Wilson for a pick to set up UK at the Gator 37. But after Derrick Locke ripped off a 12-yard run, the Cats gave it right back when Hartline threw his first interception of the year to Jonathan Bostic.
Hartline's first-half struggles continued as Florida cornerback Jeremy Brown stepped in front of quick out intended for La'Rod King and took it 52 yards down the left sideline for six to extend Florida's lead to 21-0 with 6:14 left in the second.
"They sat on the route," Phillips said. "We can't be greedy. We've just got to drop the ball off. We tried to stick it in there and they picked it."
"It was a short five-yard route, and we thought we'd get one in there and let (King) run," Hartline said. "That just shows us we need to throw the ball deep, and we came back and did that."
Kentucky went to a little trickery to finally get on the board. Ryan Tydlacka lined up to attempt a 28-yard field goal. Matthews was sprinting off the field as if he were coming out of the game but stopped just short of the left sideline. Randall Cobb took the snap and then tossed it to a wide-open Matthews for an easy touchdown that cut the deficit to 21-7 with 3:22 left in the first.
Florida came out of the locker room and re-established itself after a raggedy second quarter. Fueled by Demps, the Gators marched on an 11-play, 83-yard drive. Demps had gains of 11 and 13 yards, and Moore, isolated on UK middle linebacker Ronnie Sneed, had two big third-down catches of 18 and 24 yards to set up Burton's third touchdown, a 10-yard scamper out of the Wildcat to give the Gators a 27-7 cushion with 9:56 in the third.
The Cats answered quickly with a six-play, 77-yard drive of their own, as Hartline lofted a beautiful fade to Matthews in the left corner for a 27-yard scoring play which brought UK within 27-14 at 6:58.
By that point, though, the Florida offense was humming. Brantley hooked up with Deonte Thompson for a 30-yard gain, and Burton added his fourth touchdown on a 10-yarder to make it 34-14 late in the third. Burton picked up TD No. 5 on a 3-yard run with 13:11 remaining, and capped off his night with a 7-yarder at 6:38.
"We just couldn't stop 'em," Locke said. "They were doing the same old plays. Why it wasn't getting stopped, I don't know. I can't point any fingers and say it was the defense's fault. We couldn't put points on the board, so it was our fault as well. ... We lost as a team."
Florida outgained the Cats 466-352. When asked why the Cats had so much trouble defensively, junior linebacker Ronnie Sneed said, "I couldn't tell you, man. They just out-schemed us, I guess. I guess maybe they caught on to how we were trying to scheme them, and they just beat us with whatever coverage we were in. We're tougher than this. We're going to come back next week and show what we can do against Ole Miss."
Matthews had a career night, catching six passes for 114 yards and two scores, but the Florida defense kept Cobb and Locke relatively in check. Locke, the SEC's leading rushing coming into the game, carried 23 times for 103 yards, with many of those yards coming on UK's final possession. Locke didn't get into the end zone for the first time all season. Cobb finished with just 102 total yards and had just two carries for a season-low three yards rushing.
Trevathan addresses suspension. After the game, Trevathan said he felt partially responsible for UK getting into a 14-0 first-quarter hole while he was on the bench serving a first-quarter suspension for disciplinary reasons. Redshirt freshman Qua Huzzie got his first career start in Trevathan's place. Trevathan played the final three tackles but was credited with a season-low two tackles.
"I feel like it really affected the game," Trevathan said. "I take that upon myself. Qua did a good job and I'm not taking away from the rest of the defense, but I felt like they were missing a little something out there. It was my responsibility to take care of business and I didn't do that."
Phillips wouldn't use Trevathan's absence as an excuse.
"We expect the next guy to step up," he said. "Our players have to understand you can't be selfish and put yourself ahead of the football team. Danny will learn from this."
Matthews steps up. Matthews wasn't sure how effective he'd be after he practiced all week with a cast to protect a sprained thumb he suffered in the Akron game.
"To be honest with you, I was getting frustrated (in practice) because I was dropping balls that are usually caught," Matthews said. "I was just hoping Hartline wouldn't think I couldn't catch the ball once the cast came off."
Roark blocks another kick. Junior receiver Matt Roark got his sixth career blocked kick when he deflected Caleb Sturgis' extra point in the third quarter. Five of Roark's six blocks have come on extra points.
Gators get another block. Florida blocked a Craig McIntosh 35-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. It was the Gators' 29th blocked kick since 2005, the most in the country over that time span.