Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The freaks come out night, the freaks come out ni-ight...

That song always makes me think of Halloween and, as a result, I always end up singing the refrain over and over again on Halloween night. It just works perfect, at least for me I'm not sure why, other than the fact that Whodini rules and, well, the song is catchy as hell.

Even though it's Tuesday, I'm still catching up on work and recharging my batteries after one of the most ridiculous and completely awesome weekends I've had in quite some time. However, I didn't want to let Halloween pass without at least passing along a very generic "Happy Halloween" to everyone. Even though I'm still a little tired from this past weekend, and definitely don't need to drink for probably another couple of days, I'm still planning on going out tonight. Maybe once I have kids (HA!) I won't want find it physically impossible to stay home on Halloween. Then again, maybe not (I do adore the sauce). I mean, how many other holidays cause children, teens and full grown adults to all dress up and act like complete lunatics? Other than Arbor Day, I can't think of another.

So there it is...Happy Halloween you bunch of losers. Go out and get drunk, or take the sage advice of Bushwick Bill and rob "little kids for bags". Hell, if you manage your time wisely you might be able to kill two birds with one stone. While I sincerely hope you choose to participate in all that tonight has to offer, there's one guy who I can guarantee you won't be celebrating Halloween tonight. That guy is Keyon Dooling. Don't believe me? Just read this quote from Keyon:

"I was never a big Halloween guy. I never really understood it. I didn’t go trick-or-treating as a kid. I still don’t know what it’s about."

Umm, alright then. I, for one, had no idea that Halloween could be such an abstract concept.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lookin at my...fuck it. It's about that time.

Yep. That's right. Today marks the begining of what promises to be a most eventful and booze fueled weekend. The Annual Florida-Georgia game, also known as (Seriously, just deal with it Adams) the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. While many people won't be descending upon the great(?) city of Jacksonville until Friday afternoon, I'll be arriving tonight at around 8:30 in order to pick up some fellow revelers from the airport. From there, we're off to our hotel right near The Landings where the beer will flow like wine and the women, well, they'll be really drunk and (possibly) very slutty. Sounds like fun don't it?

I'll be riding with Vitas up to Jacksonville this evening so that we can pick up Jerry, TJ and Wheelhouse regulars Salts and Greg for their first collective cocktail party experience. On Friday, more trouble comes our way as my buddies Berto and Socks make their way into town after Socks' flight comes in from San Francisco (what a gay). Salts has suggested that we all try "not to die" this weekend, which I think is a total chicken shit move, but since it seems I'm outnumbered on this one I too will try and comply with his request. In all seriousness, I'm really pumped about this weekend. The Cocktail Party is always a good time and we've got a huge crew of guys and a couple of prime hotel rooms this year. Things couldn't look much better from where I'm standing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Snobs & Liars

That pretty much sums up my day today. I'll be working a political event from 3-8 pm this evening and I'll be surrounded by people who are one or the other (or both) for the entirety of this event. As you may have guessed, I'm none too pleased about this. I find politricks (thanks Sheed) mildy annoying and politicians mind numbingly annoying so tonight's festivities should test my famoulsy thin patience to its absolute breaking point. Hopefully, I'll be able to contain my rage long enough to avoid dumping a pot of coffee on some state representatives head in front of hundreds of their constituents. Hopefully, I'm not making any promises at this point. So that's my day today. An approximately 12 hour workday that includes over 5 hours of poltical douchebaggery at its finest. Did I mention that this event is out-fucking-doors? No? Yeah, well, it is...in a park. Now, I wasn't a poly-sci major in college or anything but something about a poltical event in a park seems, well, extremely low rent. I can only guess what kind of food is going to be served tonight. Beanie Weanies? Frog Legs? I think I'm going to have to make a concerted effort to keep the verbal sarcasm and vitriol to a minimum tonight, lest I reveal my disdain for everyone involved in this event while in mixed company. Hopefully, the thoughts of what awaits me in just over day will keep me placated for the duration of tonight's activities. That's really my only hope at this point. That, and the visions of Chris Carpenter dominating last night. Because, that, was freaking sweet.

I'll try and post a little something tomorrow before I head out to Jacksonville.

Friday, October 20, 2006

There is NOTHING quite like Playoff Baseball.

There's very little chance that I'm going to be able to write anything that even approaches a sensible and/or analytical recap of last night's Game 7. No, I'm not going to completely ignore the game in this space like last weekend's loss to Auburn (Why oh why was Tebow not in on 3rd and 2 at the Auburn 6? I'll never stop believing Mullen and Meyer outwitted themselves on that play. Stop...think about last night. Ahh, yes. That's nice.). Rather, I'm still so jacked/fried from last night's emotional roller coaster to effectively sum up the events that happened late last night as I sat in my house all by my lonesome. I don't care if the NL is far inferior to the Al, that was a classic Game 7. A bonafide classic. Clutch performances by unlikely heroes on both sides in an absolutely electric atmosphere. I've been alternately pumping my fist (lightly) and smiling all morning as I read through various accounts of last night's clincher. I think I finally understand what my friend Kurt was going through when he engaged me in the most awkward man hug in recorded human history after Aaron Boone's Game 7 HR over Boston in 2003. Thank God I was by myself last night and the only thing I had the chance to hug was a frosty bottle of Jager.

In the interest of attempting to capture some of last night's emotions, I'll detail a couple of the phone calls exchanged by my father and I during the latter innings of last night's win.

10:03 pm: I was literally halfway off my couch and in mid-yell when, all of the sudden, Endy Chavez decided to make the most improbable catch since Angels in the Outfield. I immediately sat my ass down and watched the replay of Chavez's catch over and over and over. Chavez is one of the nicest professional athletes that I've ever met but I want to stab him the fucking eye right now. And I would, if I wasn't paralyzed by the agony of the emotional swing that Chavez just inflected on me. After a minute (or an hour I'm not sure) I pick up the phone and call my Dad. He answers, which is a good sign as I feared for his health, and says:

Dad: That's unbelievable. Best catch I've ever seen.
Me: "He barely even..."
Dad (cutting me off): I know. He snowconed it. That was the game winner right there.
Me: You're right. Fuck.
Dad: We really need Suppan to shut them down this inning.
Me: Yeah, we think Shea is crazy now.
Dad: Okay...Bye.

I'm not sure what my Dad was doing during the bottom of the inning. Me, I was cursing Endy Chavez only to stop cursing him and start cursing Scott Rolen. As soon as the ball left Rolen's hands I was convinced the game was over. Of course, I tried to do my part by cracking yet another Budweiser (I don't even drink Bud and I bought a six pack last night in hopes of sending some good karma the Cardinals' way. Yep, I'm 29 and have a Masters degree. I'm sure this is exactly how my parents pictured my life progressing when they sent me away to college.) I don't know if the Budweiser worked but it certainly didn't hurt. Neither did Jose Valentin's complete inability to hit a decent curveball. Jeff Suppan will always have a special place in my heart after that performance in the sixth inning (ngs...okay, sgs). My Dad calls again.

Dad: Wow.
Me: Can we really win this thing?
Dad: I'm not sure. I just know it's not over yet, somehow.

Cut to the top of the ninth. I'm once again cursing Scott Rolen as he quickly falls behind 0-2. However, the next thing I know he's managed a single and is standing on first. Yadier Molina strides to the plate. I wrote about unlikely heroes a couple of days ago and he would certainly fall into that ever expanding category (Suppan's already in at this point). He hits the first pitch deep, really deep. Can Chavez get to that? No. I let out a primal scream that has to have awoken at least one of my neighbors. As the inning ends my phone rings.

Dad: It's all on Wainwright now.
Me: God that's a lot of pressure for a rookie. I'm worried.
Dad: I've been worried for 5 hours. What's another five minutes.
Me: Bye.

I'll tell you what another five minutes is...excruciating. Once Cliff Floyd comes to the plate I'm practically hiding my face behind my hands. I can't stand it anymore. Wainwright shows some serious onions and gets Floyd. Reyes goes down quick (Though initially I could've sworn that ball would drop). Now Wainwright starts to lose it a bit and ends up walking Lo Duca. Here comes motherfucking Carlos Beltran and his magical mole. I hate that guy. Nobody has murdered the Cardinals in the postseason like Beltran. Ok, that's a lie. Babe Ruth gave it the Redbirds worse...that's comforting. Before I even have much time to freak out it's 0-2. Now I'm completely freaking out. Wainwright drops the hammer on Beltran as he stands there motionless. I let out another primal scream. Cards win. Are you kidding me? CARDS WIN!!!!

As I sit there in disbelief, my phone rings one last time.

Dad: How's the World Series sound to you?
Me: Pretty fucking good. What a game.
Dad: Yeah. I don't think I'll be go to sleep anytime soon. Might as well crack a Bud.
Me: One step ahead of you old man. Did you wake Mom up just now?
Dad: I think so. Who cares, the Cards are in the World Series.
Me: Unbelievable.

We stayed on the phone going over the game for another few minutes before we finally hung up. Of course, I was a long way away from going to bed so I stayed up with a beer and a shot and watched as much coverage as possible. What a fucking night.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I need a hero...

Remember that song? Of course you do. Well, the 1985 Cardinals kind of adopted it as their theme song. Honestly, I'm not sure if the team adopted it as much as the fans adopted it. Since I was 8 during the 1985 season, I'm going to guess it was the St. Louis fans if only because I have some trouble picturing Jack Clark, Vince Coleman and John Tudor belting out the lyrics to this in the locker room. Nevertheless, I've been thinking about this song with all the unlikely heroes that have stepped up for the Cardinals this fall. Guys like Scott Spiezio, Josh Kinney, and So Taguchi to name a few. However, no Cardinal player this fall has been as unlikely a hero as one Jeff Weaver. Weaver's performance during these playoffs (and especially this NLCS) is nothing if not improbable. In fact, I'm not the least bit ashamed to say that I've become a Jeff Weaver fan. Okay, I'm a little ashamed. Sure, he's a douchebag stoner, but now he's a douchebag stoner who's going to receive far more on the free agent market this winter than he deserves. Well, at least more than his record prior to this year's playoffs indicates that he deserves.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if the Cardinals tried to bring him back next year. We all know that Dave Duncan loves reclamation projects (Have you seen his wife? Good god.) and, honestly, there's not a gaggle of quality starting pitchers out on the market right now. (I know, I know. I just used the word "quality" in reference to Jeff Weaver and I wasn't talking about his stash. I can't really believe it either). With that said, the Cards would be royally screwed without his contributions thus far in the playoffs and that's not something that I ever thought I'd write.

Obviously, tonight's game is beyond huge for both teams. The Mets are in a must-win situation and the Cards have their "ace" going in a Game 6 on the road. To be perfectly honest, I'm pretty nervous about Carpenter tonight. He seems to have some trouble managing his emotions early in big games and therefore pitches erratic in the opening inning or two. I'm not sure if the Cards can afford something like that tonight. Shea's gonna be jacked and I fear this game could get away (in a big way) from St. Louis if the Mets get out to an early lead.

Disclaimer: I know this post is disjointed but I never intended on writing much more than "Big game tonight. St. Louis can clinch...Go Cards." However, the spirit (or spirits, you decide) took over and I felt compelled to write a little more than your basic "Game tonight" post. Whatever. I just wasted an extra five minutes of your afternoon, so stop bitching

Friday, October 13, 2006

The kind of Saturday that's resulted in a divorce or two...

I’m going to keep it rather short today (I swear) with a couple of random comments on last night’s NLCS Game 1 and then some more thoughts on tomorrow’s Florida-Auburn matchup that will (apparently) be available on all 17 ESPN networks.

NLCS Game 1

Despite the loss, I wasn’t too distraught with last night’s results. The Cardinals played pretty well and actually could’ve scored some early runs if it weren’t for a handful of hard hit balls being hit directly at the Mets defense. At least two of those drives ended innings that had serious run scoring potential, so it’s tough for me to get too bent out of shape about the Cardinals overall play. (I don’t want to talk about Pujols getting doubled off by Beltran, ever).

Sure, I screamed “FUCK!!!” the moment that Beltran’s bat made contact with Weaver’s offering in the sixth but, even with that, I came away somewhat encouraged by the overall performance of St. Louis. I’m sure that plenty of people want to blame somebody for Beltran’s homer (Weaver, LaRussa, Tim Robbins) but it was more a case of a great player (Beltran) jumping on Weaver’s mistake and making the most of it than anything in particular that was done so egregiously wrong. I’ve said, numerous times, that if you get 5 good innings from Weaver in a start then you should thank your lucky stars and go to the bullpen, immediately. However, I was all for Weaver going out to start the sixth after the way he had pitched through the first 5 innings. I mean, it’s not like the Cardinals’ bullpen is exactly a murderer’s row of late inning efficiency these days. With that said, I would’ve pulled Weaver as soon as LoDuca singled to start the sixth. They gave Weaver a shot to keep it going and he didn’t get it done. At that point, I’d have gotten Tyler Thompson in to face Beltran. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s still tough to hammer LaRussa too much for his decision to leave Weaver in. St. Louis didn’t lose the game right then and there. The Cards would've loved to get both games at Shea but I doubt they'd tell you they really expected that to happen. Now, if Carpenter can’t keep the Cards close late into the game tonight, well, then they might be in trouble. Big trouble. Carpenter is their ace and tonight’s his night to carry the banner for his team.

A couple of more thoughts:

- What’s Beltran make, like $18 million a year? With that kind of money you would think that he could afford to have that monstrous mole of his removed. If I remember correctly, Uncle Buck said it only cost a quarter to have a rat gnaw that type of thing off your face. Of course, that was the 80’s so it might be closer to $5 by now.

- Tom Glavine’s at-bat music is Lil’ John? Really? How did this happen? You could’ve given me 200 guesses on the artist whom Glavine uses for his at-bat music and I never would’ve even gotten close to Lil’ John (Lil’ Scrappy, maybe). I guess all those years in Atlanta had more of an affect on Tom then we thought, huh?


When I first looked at Florida’s 2006 schedule earlier this year, I put my head through a plate glass window. When I managed to clean myself up and remove all the loose glass from my scalp I took another look and noticed the insane stretch of games during the month of October. It was at this point that I poured peroxide over my fresh wounds in an attempt to quell the pains of anxiety that were pounding in my skull, to no avail. Eventually, I settled down enough to start deciphering the schedule with a little more precision. Through all of this, it became clear to me that the game which presented the greatest challenge to the Gators this year (and there were many) was the matchup at Auburn. There were three primary reasons for this:

Homefield Advantage: Coming into the season, this game was, in my opinion, the Gators toughest test on the road. Think about that for a second…that’s pretty impressive when you consider that Florida faces it’s two biggest rivals (FSU, Tennessee) on the road this year, and that was before we found out the game would be a night game. Not only would this game be a road game in one of the nations toughest (and most underrated) places to play, but it would also be against the team which most pundits had anointed as the SEC’s most talented. Finally, as if playing in Jordan-Hare, at night, against a team that had an SEC win streak of 19 games coming into the season weren’t enough, there’s this: Auburn has six all-time wins at home against Top 5 opponents. Three of those six wins have come against the University of Florida.

Defense: There’s plenty of defense in the SEC, this we know. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to name a conference in the country that can even compete with the SEC when it comes to standout defenses or defensive players. The main attribute that most people point to when attempting to explain the difference between SEC defenses and the rest of the country is speed. Defenses in the SEC are scary fast. Urban Meyer learned this firsthand last year during the first half of the SEC season. This is where Auburn comes in. Even in the SEC, Auburn’s defense is supremely fast. Former Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik preferred smaller, faster defensive players and recruited justly (Don't believe me, Auburn's top four linebackers average 215 lbs.)

Though he’s left for Texas, Chizik left Auburn with a bevy of extremely fast, if a little undersized, defensive players. That’s precisely why the Auburn defense scares me so much. They don't overpower their opponents as much as run right past them. Florida’s offensive line has stood up to some stern tests so far this year. However, they haven’t faced a defense with the overall speed of Auburn, and they certainly haven’t done so in front of 90,000 screaming fans. Make no mistake, tomorrow night’s game will be the ultimate test for not only this Gator offensive line, but for this entire offense.

Kenny Irons: The bane of every South Carolina fans existence himself. I have a friend who attended USC who swears he’ll punch Lou Holtz in the face if he ever gets the chance, all because of Kenny Irons. You know what? I don’t blame him. In fact, I’d have already found a way to make it happen if I was him. Simply put, Kenny Irons is a beast. He’s the total package as far as running backs go. He possesses breakaway speed, great vision, superior cutback ability and a force of will that allows him to constantly break tackles and generate extra yardage after contact. He scares the bejesus out of me. Florida boasts the nation’s #2 rush defense but they have yet to face a truly elite back this season. The closest that they’ve seen is Alabama’s Kenneth Darby, and he hasn’t been the nearly the back that he was in 2005 yet this year. If Florida can’t contain Irons and force Auburn into 3rd and medium or long, then the entire game changes for Florida. This Gator defense is a different breed from those that’s we’ve seen in years past. They are tougher, deeper, fast, and more physical. However, they haven’t erased the memories of so many “soft” Gator defenses of the past just yet. At least not in the eyes of many pundits on the national scene. Saturday night is their chance to do just that. If they contain Irons and escape the plains with a win, then the whole country will have no chance but to believe, no, know that this is a different Gator squad, a tough Gator squad and a Gator squad that can no longer be overlooked.

The Cardinals also happen to be playing in Game 3 of the NLCS at the same time as the Gators game at Auburn. I'm not really sure how I'm going to handle the combined stress of these two games at once, though I'm pretty sure that alcohol will be involved. Prominently involved.

Reggie Nelson, and a some booze should make Saturday a little easier on my nerves.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Let's try this again.

Hopefully the Cardinals and Mets can get their NLCS matchup started tonight before MLB has to step in and change around the rest of the schedule for the series. We don't want that, well...because, MLB and Bud Selig could fuck up a wet dream. That's why.

Go Cards!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tommy Herr was unavailable...

I'm a little too tired (read: hungover) today after celebrating my birthday last night to spend much time posting my various thoughts from the recent three day weekend (Yes, I had Columbus Day off, suckers). However, I didn't want the afternoon to get away without mentioning tonight's NLCS Game 1 between former NL East rivals St. Louis and New York.

There was once a time when I hated the Mets with intensity and passion. The kind of complete and irrational hatred that only 8-12 year old boys who religiously follow baseball can muster. Those days have long since passed due to a combination of divisional realignment, time and acquisition of a life that doesn't revolve around fart jokes, baseball and blurry Cinemax. With that said, I'm going to try and recapture those days (not the Cinemax part...that's why I have a high speed wireless connection at home) over the next few weeks as I hold out hope that the Cardinals can continue to defy the odds and wade their way through the stress laden morass of Playoff Baseball. So, in the spirit of October, allow me to say:

Fuck New York and fuck the Mets. Oh yeah, fuck Gary Carter too. That guy always annoyed the hell out of me.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Big day, BIG day...

The Cardinals can close out their NLDS series against the Padres today with a win in St. Louis. That would be nice.

Of course, not quite as nice the Gators beating LSU for the first time time in three years. That would be, dare I say, amazing. And, would more than likely result in a very long and boozy evening of celebration.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Corso Beats His Wife...

In honor of Gameday's first appearance of the year in Gainesville, I figured I ought to break a line from the greatest sign I've ever seen during a Gameday telecast. Some may say that it's a bit harsh. I say that dirty Nole has it coming...in spades.

In an effort to keep my Gator columns more enjoyable for most of you, I’m going to try and keep them in some type of format from here on out. I’m hoping that the constraints of organization will force me to pare down my thoughts a bit thus making these posts a little more concise and less like the rambling tangents that often accompany any verbal assessment of the University of Florida’s Football team. With that in mind, I’m going to break down some key components of last week’s game against Alabama and then address those aspects with regard to what they will mean this coming Saturday against LSU.


This unit is far ahead of last year’s offense at this same stage. The line struggled early on against Bama but managed to get going early in the second quarter as they settled into their assignments against Bama’s unorthodox 3-3-5 defense and dominated the line of scrimmage on their way to a 95 yard TD drive. From this point on, the offense began to hit its stride. Their was plenty of time in the passing game and the running game really started to pick up in the second half as Florida’s line began to wear on Bama’s defense while opening up some huge holes for DeShawn Wynn and Kestahn Moore. As the O-Line’s play picked up, Chris Leak and his receivers became steadily more comfortable working against an experienced Alabama secondary, making site adjustments (Caldwell’s TD) and exploiting mismatches in the passing game by using the size of Dallas Baker and the speed of Jemalle Cornelius. While Leak ended up with some impressive stats, he was erratic in the game’s early stages, short hopping a couple of throws and nearly throwing an interception deep in his own territory.

What this means for Saturday:

While Florida’s O-line is a much improved unit, it will have to be even more prepared come Saturday afternoon. LSU’s defense is better and faster than anything the Gator’s have seen thus far. Furthermore, D-Coordinator Bo Pelini is both solid in teaching fundamentals and innovative in his employment of his defensive troops. Florida’s uncertainty in it’s blocking schemes was exposed last year by Pelini, especially in five wide sets. The O-Line will have to be quick and decisive against LSU if Florida is to take advantage of any opportunities afforded to it by the LSU defense. If the O-Line can hold its own against a dominating D-Line it will open up time for Chris Leak and his receivers. Leak will need to avoid staring down his primary receiver against LSU’s experienced and talented secondary. Twice this season, Leak has had sure interceptions deep in his own territory negated by penalty (Tenn.) or drops (Bama). If Leak makes this mistake again, LSU will almost certainly make him pay. Beyond Leak, UF’s receivers are going to have to win their fair share of one-on-one battles if the Gators are to march to victory. LSU frequently employed man coverage last year, virtually daring a Gator receiver to beat them. More often than not, Gator receivers couldn’t make LSU pay for these gambles which left Leak scrambling for his life. Perhaps, the biggest aid to the passing game would be a solid rushing attack. While Florida has rushed far more cromulently thus far this season, Saturday represents a new challenge. With DeShawn Wynn possibly injured (certainly hobbled), the Gators will need increased contributions from the likes of Moore, Tim Tebow, and Billy Latsko (both as a blocker and runner).


While Florida’s defense is currently ranked 4th in the nation in scoring defense, it has not always resembled the dominating unit that one would expect when presented with such a statistic. This was evident against Alabama, as the Gators defense allowed Alabama to move the ball with surprising regularity in between the 20s. However, once the Tide came close to scoring territory, UF’s defense repeatedly came up with the big play or plays needed to fight off Alabama. Whether it was a timely sack (Derrick Harvey) or a crucial pass breakup (Reggie Lewis), the Gators always seemed to come up with the right play at exactly the right time.

While it’s easy to be happy with only allowing 6 offensive points to Alabama, one must be concerned with the relative lack of pressure generated by Florida’s front four. The Gator D clearly misses the push created by Marcus Thomas up the middle. His presence, and the double teams it brought, opened up ends Harvey, Jarvis Moss and Ray McDonald for one-on-one matchups on the outside. Without Thomas, Florida has struggled to consistently generate a pass rush thereby leaving its inexperienced corners to deal with Bama’s receivers on the outside. The results were a number of big gains by Bama receivers in the short to intermediate passing game, due largely to the space being given by the UF secondary in order to avoid giving up the big play over the top.

What this means for Saturday:

LSU has not been able to run the ball with any measure of success thus far this season. Much of this is due to a relatively inexperienced offensive line that is still learning the ropes. The rest of the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of tailbacks Alli Broussard and Justin Vincent. Neither back has shown the explosiveness they had prior to their injuries and look tentative in their cuts. This shouldn’t change much this week against Florida. The Gators boast the nation’s #4 rush defense and have consistently forced their opponents to abandon the run game in the second half in an attempt to effectively move the ball.

Of course, LSU has another side of the offensive coin, a devastatingly effective passing game. A passing game that has led to LSU Offensive Coordinator Jimbo Fisher (gotta love the SEC) calling far more pass plays than at any time during JaMarcus Russell’s tenure in Baton Rouge. Russell has responded by lighting up secondaries as few before in Tiger country. While I’m not (and never have been) a huge fan of Russell, one thing he does extremely well is throw the deep ball. He’s done it often this year, and with a large measure of success. With a group of receivers possibly more talented than their counterparts at UF, Russell has a large bevy of weapons at his disposal in the passing game. UF’s D will have to find ways to pressure Russell and force him to check down out of his primary reads. If the green Gator corners are forced to matchup one-on-one with the likes of Dwayne Bowe, Craig Davis and Early Doucet then it could be a very, very long day for the Gator defense. To be effective, the Gators must get pressure on Russell quickly without allowing him to move out of the pocket and create opportunities downfield. While blitzing linebackers up the middle will certainly aid this plan of attack, a push from the middle of UF’s defensive line is crucial against LSU. All of these objectives are attainable, especially against a young and banged up LSU O-line playing in a very hostile environment. It is incumbent upon the members of the Gator D-Line to win their one-on-one battles when they get the chance. Furthermore, Florida must contain LSU’s ground game and make them one dimensional. If LSU can effectively run the ball, Florida’s defense will not be able to put enough pressure on Russell to disrupt the Tigers’ passing game.

Special Teams:

I’m not going to spend much time on Florida’s Special Teams, other than to say that they must show marked improvement on Saturday. Other than some excitement courtesy of Brandon James, the Gator Special Teams have been a major disappointment so far this season. Florida will need big days from Chris Hetland (K), Eric Wilbur (P) if they are to come out victorious in this game. Additionally, UF could use a field position boost from return man James on either kickoff or punt return duty with kickoff being more likely, due to the excellence of LSU punter Chris Jackson.

Slow Starts:

Florida once again stumbled out of the gates against Bama, struggling defensively to get pressure while the offense was only able to top their ineffectiveness moving the ball by coughing up a TD producing fumble. This was symptomatic of most of the Gator’s game this fall. The Gators have trailed during the first half of every game but one (UCF) so far this season and have given up opening TDs to Tennessee, Southern Miss. and Alabama. Both offense and defense seem to sleepwalk through the games first stanza, only awakening when pushed by their opponents.

What this means for Saturday:

Problems, big problems. Florida cannot afford another slow start against LSU. To be successful, UF must come out hitting on all cylinders and energize the home crowd. An early score or turnover could rattle some of the Tigers and lead give Florida the kind of home field advantage that can be so valuable in game as tight as this looks to be. Letting LSu settle in and get comfortbale in the Swamp could have devastating effects on the game's outcome.

Missing In Action:

Florida looks to be without two, and possibly three, of their biggest contributors on Saturday afternoon. Marcus Thomas is out for his third consecutive game and his presence will certainly be missed. With Thomas manning the middle, he creates mismatches along the outside for the rest of the defensive line while also causing a fair amount of havoc in his own right. Another player who may be out for a third game (or fourth if you take out the first 5 minutes against Tenn.) is Percy Harvin. The electric freshman had already become a starter and difference maker for Florida before a high ankle sprain against UT sent him to the sidelines. He is, possibly, Florida’s most dangerous and versatile weapon on offense. Without him, the offense loses some of it’s effectiveness. However, aside from Chris Leak, the absence of no player causes as many problems for the Florida offense as DeShawn Wynn. Wynn started slowly against Bama but really began to hit his stride late in the first half. He continued to heat up early in the second half and looked to be well on his way to a third consecutive 100 yard performance before spraining his ankle midway through the third quarter. The SEC’s fourth leading rusher is the big, bruising back that Florida needs to move the chains and keep defenses off balance.

What this means for Saturday:

As I discussed earlier, the Florida defense will have to find a way to get pressure on Russell without Thomas. If the Gators cannot generate this pressure without employing too many blitzes, I see little chance in Florida pulling out the victory. As for Harvin, I doubt he will be 100% on Saturday. However, his presence on the field will force the defense to adjust its coverage to deal with the threat of him. If able to play, getting Harvin involved early is paramount. Harvin’s early involvement in the offensive scheme will energize the crowd and his teammates while also making the Gator offense much more difficult for LSU to effectively match up with. Now, we come the most concerning absence, DeShawn Wynn. Long lambasted by coaches and fans, Wynn has emerged this year to provide Florida with the primary back it so sorely needed. If Wynn is unable to play on Saturday, it will put further pressure on Kestahn Moore to run with purpose and strength and prove himself a capable SEC tailback. Moore hasn’t had a lot of carries this year, but he’ll have to tote the rock for close 75 yards on Saturday in order to keep LSU’s defense honest. Furthermore, Tim Tebow will have to continue to do be the beastly QB/Gorilla/FB that he’s been all year. Without Wynn, he’ll get even more short yardage carries than he has so far.

Key Players: They’ll be no long narratives here, just a few players on each team that will be especially important to the outcome on Saturday.


Reggie Nelson: RFN has to play a great centerfield against a talented corps of receivers who are sure to test Florida’s corners deep. He may even be used in the nickel slot depending on the situation.

Tim Tebow: Simply put, the Gators can’t win if he doesn’t continue to grind out tough yards on the ground.

Billy Latsko: With Wynn out, the underrated Latsko’s blocking will play an even more vital role for Florida’s offense than it already does. Moore, Markus Manson and Brandon James are not big enough to shake off many tackles at the line. They’ll need Latsko to spring them into the second level. Latsko will also be key in pass protection against Bo Pelini’s blitzes.

Cornelius Ingram/Tate Casey: Florida needs to utilize these two talented and athletic tight ends to relieve pressure off of Leak both as blockers and within the pass game. Using these two in the flat and over the middle should be an especially effective way to attack LSU defense and slow down their blitzes.


LaRon Landry: Reggie Nelson’s counterpart is known as the nation’s best safety. He’ll line up all over the field on Saturday and will be a key component in pass coverage as well as Bo Pelini’s blitz packages.

Chevis Jackson/Jonathan Zenon: LSU two corners will determine much of what the Tigers can throw at Florida. If they can cover Gator receivers effectively, then that will allow Landry to play closer to the line of scrimmage and cause havoc within the Gator backfield. Florida cannot win if these two shutdown the likes of Caldwell, Cornelius and Baker.

Jacob Lester: He’s JaMarcus Russell’s favorite receiver underneath and LSU loves to pass to him out of the backfield on playaction. He routinely picks up 5-10 yards on this play and is LSU's most frequent weapon on short to intermediate third downs. Florida’s linebackers need to be keenly aware of him at all times.

Dwayne Bowe: The big (6’3”), physical Bowe killed UF last year with two crucial third down receptions. The first was a TD over Dee Webb late in the second quarter while the second occurred late in the 4th quarter and virtually sealed the LSU victory as Jospeh Addai scampered into the end zone for the winning TD just two plays later. Both balls were essentially jumpballs that Bowe won against smaller Gator DBs. UF must be physical with Bowe at the line of scrimmage and force him off his routes. Once the ball is in the air, it is imperative upon Gator defenders to play the ball and not Bowe. Reggie Lewis did a great job of this against DJ Hall last week in the fourth quarter. He’ll need to be even better on Saturday.

You’ll get no prediction from me in this space, not this week at least.

Oh yeah, the Cardinals are playing right now. Can they win two in a row?

Finally, since you're likely to be reading this on Friday, here's a good interview with ?uestlove from Playboy, seriously.

(9:42 PM) Update: Marcus Thomas is officially eligible to play against LSU. I literally yelled out loud just now when I read this.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Originally I was going to write up a recap of the Gators’ mildy maddening victory over Alabama on Saturday. However, with a HUGE game against LSU approaching this weekend, its a pretty sure bet that I’ll be tackling some Gator football related items in my next post. With that in mind I decided that it would probably be better for all of us if I held off on my post-game analysis until Thursday, when I’ll attempt to preview the upcoming SEC showdown against the Bayou Bengals within the context of Saturday’s win over the Tide.

What does all that mean? Not much actually, other than you’ll have to wait a little longer for my thoughts on the #5 ranked college football team in the nation…and today’s post is going to be a collection of random thoughts from the weekend that was…

- Somehow, someway the Cardinals managed to avoid infamy and squeeze their way into the playoffs. As much as it pains me to say this, the fans of St. Louis owe a debt of gratitude to the Atlanta Braves organization, as it’s highly unlikely that the Cards would’ve had the ability to qualify for the playoffs on their own merit. Of course, none of this really matters now. St. Louis’ playoff run starts today and, if things hold to form, it’s gonna be a whole hell of a lot closer to a 40 yard dash than a miraculous October marathon. Whatever, we’re still in the playoffs.

- It might be time for me to consider changing the title of this blog. Drunk and Stupid doesn’t seem to accurately capture my life as well as it once did. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still quite drunk and quite stupid. It’s just that, in light of my fantasy football ineptitude of the past weekend, I think adding the word (or words) “lazy, unbelievable fucking lazy” to that list of adjectives might be good idea. You see, I managed to lose in, not one but, both of my fantasy leagues this week because I forgot to set my roster. By not taking, oh I don’t know, five minutes out of my day on either Friday or Saturday (days upon which there were many opportunities for such a respite) I ended up sitting Larry Johnson (both leagues), Steve Smith, Maurice Jones-Drew, Antonio Gates (both leagues), Greg Jennings and Jerrious Norwood. As you might have guessed by now, I was completely destroyed in both leagues, losing by a combined 101 points.
- I was going mention the off-the-charts entertainment value of the Skins-Jags game in this space, but resident Al Saunders paramour Geoff just posted a much more comprehensive look at the game than I could have over at the Wheelhouse.
Seriously, what a game that turned out to be. After Brunell’s interception I was pretty sure that rabid Skins fans were going to burn down FedEx Field like a bunch of Brazilians burning toilets at a soccer game in an attempt to get Jason Campbell under center. However, Brunell recovered quickly, due in large part to Santana Moss and his game breaking creativity. As much as I wanted him to die on Sunday (He was torching my aforementioned fantasy teams. Yes, both of them), watching him run in the open field is one of the more enjoyable aspects of any NFL Sunday. Finally, the impact of Clinton Portis should never be overlooked as he clearly makes every single player in that offense more effective in their given roles. His ability to run with equal levels of effectiveness on the outside or within the tackles makes this Redskin offense as versatile as any the NFC has seen in recent vintage. Seriously, think about much more effective this unit could be with a steadier signal caller. Is there anybody who wouldn’t have the Skins as NFC Champs with Hasselbeck playing QB in place of Brunell? So much for not mentioning the Skins-Jags game.

- While the Skins-Jags game was undoubtedly the game of the week in the NFL. College football’s game of the week came from a much more unlikely source: Rutgers-USF. I watched most of this game on Friday night. First at the bar and then at my house. In fact, I was so into the second half of this game that I actually decided to stay home and watch it’s conclusion instead of going out. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get drunk. It’s just saying an awful lot when I eschew drinking with friends in order to stay home and watch two teams that I have absolutely no attachment to. Because I was drunk (and getting progressively more drunk) I won’t even bother with any analysis other than to say, that if you’re still sleeping on Rutgers it’s about time you stopped. They’ve got some legit NFL talent on that team and Schiano seems to have instilled the program with some genuine swagger. In my mind, he’s still a little lacking as far as x’s/o’s and in game adjustments go but he’s managed to completely change the culture within that program in a much shorter time than anybody could have ever guessed. When you’re trying to build a program at a traditionally downtrodden school with little to no athletic tradtition, changing the approach and culture of the players within the program (and the incoming recruits) is absolutely the most important early step.

- It’s been beaten to death already but I’m not one to show mercy, so here goes: You can’t have a much bigger condemnation of your starting QB than throwing a halfback pass on a potentially game tying two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter. And honestly, can you really blame Nick Saban? The Dolphins would be better off with Dante Calabria under center right now than the shell of QB that Daunte Culpepper has become. I didn’t think he was ever that impressive a QB before this season, but even I thought he’d at least be a minor upgrade (2-3 games) for a team that has started the likes of Frerotte, Feeley, Fiedler over the last few years. Obviously, I was wrong and clearly the only “best QB” title that still applies to Culpepper is “Best QB born in prison”. To be frank, even that’s up for debate now since I seem to remember hearing something about Marques Tuiasosoppo and a Japanese interment camp.

- I saw this on the internet yesterday and I had to share: Marquis Daniels has the most awesome tattoos I’ve ever seen. (Note: By “awesome”, I mean extremely disturbing and spectacularly ghetto). Please pay special attention his own personal version of the ever popular “Only the Strong Survive” tattoo. That, my friends, is a classic.

- I’m not going to get all preachy about Albert Haynesworth here. There’s plenty of people doing that for me already. I am going to point out that Albert “went to school” at the University of Tennessee. How did Fulmer miss out on Rae Carruth all those years ago? I bet that still sticks in his craw.

- I really like those Nike Commercials for “Briscoe High”. I’m not sure how much money they shelled out on those things, though I am sure it’s less than ESPN paid to promote ESPN Mobile (How’s that going for the Worldwide Leader anyway?). With that said, there are two items I’d like to discuss:

(1) Am I the only person who finds it odd that Briscoe would call a halfback pass on fourth and long late in the fourth quarter? Am I also the only person who wonders why the defense would bite on such a play? I mean, I haven’t seen as unrealistic a game winning play since Remember the Titans.

(2) Am I the only person who’s favorite part of the commercial is Deion Sanders’ white wife?

- Alright, I’ll say it. I miss listening to Paul Maguire spit all over himself whilst saying “Watch this, watch this right here!” every Sunday night on ESPN. It was like my own little version of a Sunday night lullaby in that it was so bad I just turned off the TV and went to bed instead of having to endure anymore of that “insight”. Now, I’m up until near midnight actually watching football on Sunday night. Come back to me Paul.

- Am I the only person who can’t figure out if Calvin Johnson is going to be as good as advertised as an NFL receiver? Maybe it’s all the lingering residue from guys like Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, David Terrell and, to a certain extent, Plaxico Burress but I’m having a lot of trouble buying into these big physical, but somewhat slow, receivers. There’s no denying that Johnson has terrific hands, and is great in the red zone. However, I’ve got serious doubts about his ability to consitently get open against NFL DBs. As we all know, everybody in the NFL is bigger and faster, especially DBs. So why is it always considered suck a lock that guys who make a living manhandling smallish college corners, like Johnson, are destined for NFL stardom? Other than T.O. (and he’s different too, in my opinion), name another elite receiver right now who is cut from the current big, physical receiver mold. I’m really interested to see what kind of 40 time Johnson posts come spring.

- Finally, yesterday brought us news that Christian Laettner and Brian Davis were going to buy the Memphis Grizzlies. If somebody would’ve told me that these two were buying a sports franchise I would’ve bet my house on it being the Golden State Warriors, or maybe the Calgary Flames.
Seriously though, who the hell even knew that these two had $40 million between them? What exactly has Brian Davis been doing since he left Duke. I mean, besides directing episodes of Will & Grace. Personally, I liked the report from yesterday’s press conference which mentioned how Davis openly bristled when the media laughed at his assertion that Laettner was going to play for the Grizzlies this year. Don’t make Brian Davis get Thomas “Quimby” Hill involved in this too.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

One is the loneliest number.

Just in case you missedit, the Cardinals won yesterday. If I'm not mistaken, they play again today. Just letting you know.