Saturday, September 9

The crowd all love the show, just how far will he go?

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 Mississippi State Ole Miss -- are all games Georgia should be able to win without getting to stressed-out about it, yet UAB and MSU Mississippi bring enough defense to the table that Stafford will face some actual heat before going up against Tennessee on October 7. I hope we'll manage to refrain from penciling ourselves in for any SEC title-game berths just yet, but I'm still more optimistic about the team than I was a week ago, and a lot more optimistic than I thought I'd be after the situation that presented itself in the first quarter Saturday night.

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 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."


Anonymous said...

Good write up Doug.

IMO I think Stafford did fine and will do a lot better in the future. As we know Joe was planned to be the starter, I'm sure the offense was designed around him, plays tailored to him, the coaches spent more time with him, and then all the sudden Stafford, who was 3rd string two weeks ago, was in the game. I think with some more practice, the coaches tailoring the gameplan to him (which gives us a lot more opitions, IMHO) and focusing more of their attention on him during pratcies will allow him to improve a lot between USC and UAB.

The first pick was bad, I understand, Ware was open underneath. But that long bomb interception was more of MoMass pulling off his deep route than Stafford making a bad decision. MoMass was probably not used to balls being thrown that far (Joe T being the starter, and all) and thought he was out of range. Now that the recievers know what to expect and will be able to play with Stafford in practice, I think you'll see a huge improvement.

Stafford made some great throws and then he made 1-3 bad throws. If you're telling me he's only going to get better, which I'm sure he is, then we're in a great position.

But yea, basically, I think the recievers weren't ready for Stafford. With his arm strength they'll be working on more deep balls in pratice, getting the timing better, and everything else will come with time.

Anonymous said...

not to pick nits, but our next 3 games are UAB, CU and Ole Miss, not Miss St. as stated in the column.

Josh M. said...

"...both of these guys are probably getting more ass than me."


DAve said...

Whatevr leghumper u know ur lucky to have winned that one b/c if you had not run the ball down our throats, pushed our d-line around, spent all night in our bakfiled on defense, outplayed us and shut us out we would have kicked ur redneck asses and then won tht nati'l champ. So suck it you lucky dumbass.

That was harder than I thought it would be: slight retardation and irrationality are not my specialties.

Anonymous said...

Colt McCoy looked like a spooked colt by middle of third quarter of the OSU-Texas game - I even felt sorry for him - but they would have been blanked if not for that spurious call of "helmet to helmet" by which the umps let Texas avoid going to the locker room scoreless at half-time. Why did Texas make the guy throw all the time, and scare the beejesus out of him? Let someone else help carry the load!

Anonymous said...

The saddest song has to be "I Remember Me" by the Silver Jews, yet it's so strangely uplifting at the same time, ya can't explain...

I bet Spurrier could use some good ol silver joos tonight, suck it "genius!"