Wednesday, September 8

Manic-Depressive Preview: Can Manic Doug make it all the way through without a single "cocks" joke?

Manic Doug and Depressive Doug both had a rollicking good time watching Georgia demolish UL-Lafayette last week -- yes, even Depressive Doug had a good time, right up until he realized how sunburned he was and started complaining again. But now it's time for a real game, and both our boys are back to share their meticulously researched insights.

Manic Doug: SAY IT, BITCH!

Depressive Doug: Fuck, don't do that, I nearly had a heart attack! And say what, exactly?

MD: How about that I crushed last week's prediction? I said 59-10, it ended up being 55-7, I was only ten total points off. And you were all worried we were gonna play sloppy!

DD: OK, yes, you turned out to be right about that one. That actually turned out to be an incredibly astute prediction of the score, I have to admit.

MD: Aw, come on, don't act like I just ran over your dog or something. It can't be that depressing to realize you've been underestimating my genius this entire time.

DD: OK, first of all, underestimating your genius would be damn near impossible. Second, I couldn't care less about your rightness or wrongness at this point, because I'm too busy tearing my hair out over A.J. Green getting suspended.

MD: Oh, for crying out loud. Look, would I love to have A.J. in there this weekend? Of course I would. But it's not like we're helpless without him -- he was hurt for basically the last three games of last season, and we still managed to knock off Auburn and Georgia Tech. And, of course, Aaron Murray still managed to look like a stone-cold pimp last week even without him in the lineup. We do get Tavarres King back, the Gamecocks will also have to contend with Washaun Ealey in the backfield -- the suspension thing sucks, obviously, but is it really the end of the world?

DD: Do you even have to ask that question?

MD: OK, yeah, my bad, won't happen again. Here, this'll cheer you up.

DD: Who's that?

MD: Ainsley Earhardt, South Carolina grad and anchor-something-or-other on Fox News.

DD: Fox News? That's how you decide to cheer me up? I can't believe you watch that crap.

MD: Only for the blondes, dude.

DD: OK, getting back to stuff that's remotely relevant for a second, look, I think it's great you're so high on our chances without A.J. I wish I could share your optimism. But the fact is we're going into Columbia, South Carolina, one of the most hostile venues in the SEC, on a day when it's probably going to be a thousand degrees outside and ninety-nine percent humidity . . . and we're going to be bringing a freshman quarterback. Who's never gone on the road or faced an SEC defense before. We'd be staring down the barrel of a gun even if A.J. were there. Without him . . .

MD: So you don't think Washaun and Caleb King are gonna be able to take any of the heat off him? At all?

DD: A little, maybe, but that's a potent defensive front South Carolina's gonna be working with there --

MD: Yeah, that might be missing two starting linebackers, including last year's leading tackler.

DD: Be that as it may, it's been three years since we averaged more than four yards a carry against them.

MD: Yeah, but we always seem to get enough. You don't really think we're going to need all that many points to win this thing, do you?

DD: Uhh -- were you even at last year's game?

MD: Oh, come on, that was a total outlier. Even with that game factored in, this game has averaged only 33 total points over the last nine years.

DD: Wow, that actually required math. Again you've surprised me.

MD: OK, I know I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but it really sounded like you were mocking me just then.

DD: Look, I know this game is usually a low-scoring knock-down drag-out, and we should probably expect that to be the case again this time, last year's game notwithstanding -- but South Carolina never had the offensive talent to get them over the hump before. Now they might.

MD: Like who?

DD: Like Stephen Garcia, for example, who torched us last year and had a pretty good game against Southern Miss last --

MD: Only because we temporarily forgot how to rush the QB for the first month of 2009. When Justin Houston and Akeem Dent get back into their backfield, trust me, everything will be as it should be.

DD: You think so? I hear their offensive line's a lot better . . .

MD: Yeah, I hear gonorrhea is a lot better than syphilis, but I wouldn't brag about having either one. This is a line that's given up more than 30 sacks and blocked for the SEC's worst running game three years in a row. All of a sudden I'm supposed to believe they're juggernauts, or even passable? Particularly with their starting left tackle maybe not even being cleared to play by game time?

DD: Well, they've got better talent behind them now, too. Garcia seemed to be making better decisions last Thursday night, and you know he can run. And now that they've put Marcus Lattimore in the backfield with Kenny Miles, they may actually have a decent one-two punch in the running game.

MD: Nope, still not buying it. You know their starting tight end is definitely out too, right?

DD: Yeah, but they've got great receivers everywhere else. You can't honestly tell me you're not afraid of Alshon Jeffery.

MD: OK, that guy's a beast. But you can't honestly think our pass defense hasn't improved at all over last year. I mean, I watched that game against Carolina, we were lucky if we had a DB within 10 yards of their receivers. Now our guys are actually close to the guys they're covering and they're paying attention to where the hell the ball is. You saw Todd Grantham go ballistic when Bacarri blew that coverage and gave up the touchdown against Lafayette, right? You think he's gonna take any shit in Columbia?

DD: All I can say is if yelling equaled wins, Ron Zook would have a crystal football right now.

MD: OK, I can take a lot of things, but comparing my boy Grantham to Zook is . . . that's just lower than low, dude. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

DD: Look at me. I'm never anything but ashamed of myself.

MD: Fair point.

DD: All right, so . . . you really think we're gonna win this thing? Even without A.J., and with a freshman QB on the road?

MD: Even without A.J., even with a freshman QB on the road, yes, fuck it, we win. Look, it's Carolina who has to prove they can step up here, not us. We've won every time we've gone to Columbia since Richt got here. In 2006, we threw a freshman QB at 'em and didn't just beat them, we shut 'em out. You can talk about this factor, that factor, we're missing this guy, what about that guy, but when you get right down to it, there's just no compelling reason to move away from the standard prediction: It's a low-scoring game, both sides slop around for a good while and shoot themselves in the foot on offense, but Georgia's the one that pulls the awesome play out of their own asses and squeaks out the win. I'm calling it 24-22, Georgia.

DD: So you're calling for the upset, huh.

MD: Damn straight. And I have a hunch you're not.

DD: I'd love to, but . . . I mean, come on. Freshman quarterback. No A.J. Green. The kid's gonna make some mistakes. I think he'll find his footing eventually, but I also think we'll be playing from behind for just about all of the game, and instead of Georgia making the big offensive play to carry the day, I think someone on the South Carolina side -- whether it's Garcia, or Jeffery, or Lattimore, or whoever -- makes the big play that ices it. Carolina wins, 24-16.

MD: So that averages out to . . .

(long pause)

DD: Hello? Earth to Manic Doug? What happened to the math genius?

MD: Aw, man, you average our predictions together and it comes out 23-20 for South Carolina. You asshole! You messed it all up! Screw you!

DD: Was that "Planet of the Apes"?

MD: Fuck this, I want to redo my prediction.

DD: Nope. 'S too late. You can pick another South Carolina chick if you want, though.

MD: I would, but you know what? You know what? You don't deserve it.

DD: No, I probably don't.