S.O.S.: Shut Out Spurrier . . .
Last week, I told certain people, Paul Westerdawg among them, that if Georgia shut out South Carolina on Saturday night, I would run up and down Highland Avenue wearing naught but a strategically placed Georgia flag to hide my thunder. I've thought for a long time that shutting out a Spurrier team -- which nobody ever did while he was at Florida -- would be pretty sweet, but to do it in Spurrier's house might be a poetic kind of payback for the Evil Genius hanging "half-a-hundred" on us at Sanford in 1995. For an offensive mastermind like Spurrier, putting a goose egg on the board would be the most humiliating kind of punishment, and with the Gamecock offense having looked pretty ragged against Mississippi State last week, it at least seemed possible, if not exactly probable.
Well, if you happened to be driving by the 2000 block of Highland last night around 11:30, you may indeed have seen Yours Truly running down the sidewalk with a red-and-black Bulldogs flag wrapped lovingly about his nether regions, because the Dogs went into Columbia and shut out Cooked Crackalacky, 18-bupkus. I may be a complete jackass, but I'm a man of my word. The biggest news, however, was not the shutout (or the slightly intoxicated young man running bare-assed through Southside) but rather the fact that Matt Stafford came in after Tereshinski got hurt, played the rest of the game, and appears to have dibs on the starter's job going forward.
. . . or Stafford, Our Starter?
I'm sure I've already made it clear that I've been a lot higher on Tereshinski than most people, and that my ideal situation for this season involved Tereshinski being a fairly secure starter all year long with Stafford being groomed as the future superstar under him. Of course, my ideal situation also involves rolling over tomorrow morning to find Erin Andrews delicately wiping the sleep from her eyes and asking me whether I think Urban Meyer's spread-option offense can succeed in the SEC, which is my way of saying that you have to be prepared for life to not play out at all like you were hoping it would. And while I'll fully cop to being awfully nervous when 'Shinski went limping off the field and it became clear that Stafford was going to be the one on the other end of the line when the BellSouth Call to the Bullpen was made, I was also fully prepared and willing to be a believer if Stafford showed he could handle it.
So . . . did he? My answer, at least, is a resounding "kinda." I'll say this for the kid: Whereas 'Shinski would frequently give you time to go into the kitchen, grab a beer, make a sandwich, and come back before he actually threw the ball, Stafford has a lightning-quick release, enough that it does make an appreciable difference in how long opposing defenses have to react to the play. And no doubt in part because of that, the offense just seems to move with a lot more speed when Stafford's under center. Not that Tereshinski couldn't move it, but he seems to be at the wheel of a steady, deliberate freight train, whereas Stafford seems to be piloting a 180-mph shinkansen, making you feel like they're gaining 10 or 12 yards at a time even when they're just calling 4- or 5-yard runs up the middle.
Of course, a train derailment at 180 miles an hour causes a lot more death and destruction than one at 30, and herewith we see the downside of the slow-and-steady vs. high-risk-high-reward dilemma -- Stafford's three picks, already more than Tereshinski has in his career, demonstrated the dangers of a hotshot young QB vulnerable to the temptation of going for the long touchdown bomb when a simple pass to the checkdown receiver running a curl route would get him the first down he needed. 'Shinski may not be that exciting with the ball, but the coaching staff is right that he won't do a lot to fuck you up, either; Stafford runs a more exciting offense, but you have to be prepared to occasionally watch it get exciting for the wrong reasons.
It's been interesting to see Bulldog Nation treat Stafford's 8-of-19, 0 TDs, 3 INTs as fanfare-worthy after grumbling about 7-17, 1/0 from Tereshinski last week, though Stafford did throw for a lot more yards and did so against a much tougher opponent. And obviously I'd rather see the fanbase support him and give him the benefit of the doubt than turn on him the minute he fucks up, as has been known to happen in the SEC. Still, the important thing for us is to remember that Stafford is going to have his share of upchuck games this season; even David Greene had some his freshman year. Fortunately, the next month's worth of games sets up pretty well for a guy in Staff's situation. Our next three games -- UAB, Colorado, and
And our defense . . . yikes. Before last night, Steve Spurrier had only been shut out three times as any kind of coach at any level of football -- once as QBs coach at Georgia Tech, once as the head coach at Duke, and once while he was doing his level best to embarrass my Redskins -- and he hadn't been blanked as a head coach in the NCAA in 19 years. Hurts, donut? With a D like that, Matt Stafford will probably be losing a lot less sleep than most guys in his position. I know I'll sleep pretty soundly tonight.
Up in the great beyond, Erk Russell got so excited by that defensive performance that he head-butted Jesus.
Radiation ruling the nation:
· A friend of mine once told me that he thought the saddest song in the world was "Losing My Mind," written by Stephen Sondheim for the musical Follies and later covered by the Pet Shop Boys; he said it was so sad that you could be doing anything, even having sex, and hearing it would still make you instantly depressed. I think we've found the football equivalent of that song, and it is the Mississippi State offense. They have amassed 177 yards passing and 163 yards rushing, and 0 points -- in two games. I can remember watching Lou Holtz's first South Carolina team, who went 0-for-'99 and averaged fewer than 10 points a game, and thinking that that was the most brutal offense I'd ever seen, but State's might actually be worse. Given that he just got a contract extension last year, Sylvester Croom's job is probably safe even if MSU only wins one or two games this year -- but if I were Woody McCorvey, I'd be updating my Monster.com listing, because he's the most likely victim of the tried-and-true embattled-coach-cleans-house maneuver in November.
· Speaking of brutal offenses, has any 2-0 top-10 team ever looked shakier than Florida State? Look, I'm really happy they beat Miami again and everything, but does anybody honestly think they'd get a win against anybody in the top 10 (heck, make it the top 15) at this point? To put it another way, as godawful as Missy State's offense is, their backup RB has almost as many rushing yards after two games as FSU's entire team.
· I don't want to go piling on Colt McCoy after the Longhorns' loss to OSU -- he does, after all, have the coolest name in college football, other than maybe Hawaii O-liner Hercules Satele -- but no, now that you mention it, I haven't ever seen him in the same room with Frankie Muñiz. His new nickname is Malcolm Under Center.
I guess I shouldn't laugh, though, considering that both of these guys are probably getting more ass than me.
· As you've no doubt guessed, I watch a lot of college football, but I don't think I've ever clapped eyes on a college stadium that has a nastier-looking field than Boston College. Every time I see Alumni Stadium on TV, it looks like there's something trying to seep up from underneath the AstroTurf.
I think the best adjective I can come up with is "ultra-absorbent."