Florida – Auburn Preview

October 14, 2006

I’m been procrastinating as long as I could, but it’s time to write this.

One the one hand, a lot of things are lining up for Auburn. It is a night home game for them, and they had College GameDay there this morning which always gets the fans fired up. They are coming off a loss to Arkansas, and good teams (like Auburn is) rarely lose two games in a row. In addition, Florida traditionally has never played well at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn is essentially playing for its season here, since with a loss it’d be unlikely for them to get to a BCS game and they’d need Arkansas to lose three conference games to go to Atlanta. Plus, Arkansas beat them with size and brute strength, and that’s not how Florida generally wins games.

Florida, on the other hand, has a lot going for it. UF has won eight in a row, and has already won a big night game in Knoxville in front of probably a louder crowd, and quite possibly against a better team. Chris Leak is as steady as they come, and he’s won games in Baton Rouge, Knoxville, Jacksonville, and Tallahassee before. The Gators are coming off of a big win against LSU, and the two quarterback system is really gelling into something special. The defense has bent in every which way, but it hasn’t broken and now with a full week of practice with Marcus Thomas back on the defensive line will only make them better. The offense also gets DeShawn Wynn back and Percy Harvin should be about 100%.
Now the bad. Auburn has been listless the past two games, nearly losing to South Carolina and getting demolished by the Pigs. Brandon Cox is really beat up, and Kenny Irons has been merely average in big games this year. If UF punter Eric Wilbur does as well as he did against LSU, then Auburn will be faced with long fields and the proposition of going 70 to 80 yards on the Florida defense. The Tigers’ defense has had serious issues stopping the run lately, and now they face a healthy Wynn and they’ll also have to deal with Harvin and Tim Tebow busting out of the backfield for potentially big plays.
Florida’s biggest problem, besides history saying that they’ll struggle at Auburn, is what Urban Meyer calls the Florida Nonsense. It’s all of the buzz and the press about the team. There were dozens of stories about Tebow’s touchdowns, how Florida might run the table, how they are in the national title race, and how they might not be in the top two when the BCS standings come out. Well, Florida definitely will not be in the top two if it listens and starts getting a big head. The Gators are at their highest ranking since anyone on the team came to this school. Also, Florida has yet to put a full game together with bad penalties, sloppy play, untimely turnovers, and unfortunate timeouts marring their play.

I will not be surprised whichever team wins. I am going to pick Florida though, and not just because I’m a homer. The offense has been getting better, and with a healthy Harvin it will get even better. Remember after UCF when people were comparing him to Reggie Bush? He’s not Reggie Bush, but he’s a big play threat every time he touches the ball. Wynn is not as fast at the Arkansas backs, but if he is healthy and ready to go he could punish the Tigers’ defense. Auburn also does not have the corners to cover all of Florida’s receivers. It’s hard to describe just how much of an advantage UF has when comparing receivers.

Auburn having lackluster wideouts also mitigates the Gators’ biggest weakness on defense – the secondary. Reggie Nelson and Ryan Smith have been great and good, but they still give up too many passing yards. Basically though, if you stop Kenny Irons you stop Auburn and Florida’s front seven (plus Tony Joiner blitzing most likely) will get to both Irons and Cox in the backfield.

I expect this will be somewhere between the Tenenssee game and the LSU game. I don’t think it will take a 4th quarter comeback, but the Gators won’t put it away early in the second half either. Still, I’m feeling something in the 24 – 16 range. We shall see.

One last thing – I’ve referred to Auburn as the WarPlainsTigers because they have three nicknames: the Tigers, the War Eagle(s?), and the Plainsmen. Alabama fans give all sorts of reasons why, but they have issues themselves somehow making the Crimson Tide into an elephant. The Plainsmen is the vestigial one of the three, rarely coming up as far as I can tell. Auburn fans yell “War Eagle!” to each other instead of something like “Go Gators!” and they have an eagle fly to the 50 before every game. Finally, the Tigers are what they generally go by to everyone else. I don’t get it exactly, but I’m sure there’s convoluted stories behind them all.


Georgia is the New Tennessee

October 14, 2006

After losing at home on homecoming to Vanderbilt, Georgia is officially this year’s 2005 Tennessee. They have no offense, the defense is slowly deteriorating, and everyone seems to be losing confidence. Vandy is not as bad as it seems, with each of its conference losses coming by less than a touchdown. Bobby Johnson has a good thing building there, and while I don’t think Vanderbilt will ever be a bowl team year in and year out, they certainly seem to be set to be competitive consistently.

Iowa’s loss to Indiana is even worse. By the way, did you know that Mark May picked Iowa to go to the national title game in the preseason? Yes, it’s true, and yes I’ll remind you every time the Hawkeyes lose. It’s about time there was some crazy upsets. This year has been mostly quiet in that regard.

Also, just a tough break for Adrian Peterson. He finally gets to play in front of his father, has a giant day in a blowout win, and ends up breaking his collarbone. He’s one of the better guys in college football and a tremendous player who is fun to watch. That’s a shame.


GameDay Report: 10/14

October 14, 2006

10:05 – We’re live from Auburn (and I’m live from a recliner in southwest Gainesville), the second straight Florida game covered. Last week it was here and I was there, but I can actually comment this week.

10:07 – We’ve got a lot of talk about how tough road night games are in the SEC. Florida won’t be intimidated, and Chris Leak will be poised. This much, we already knew.

10:08 – Okay, so our fluff pieces this week are on Brandon Cox and Adrian Peterson. Good to know.

10:10 – Speaking of Cox, Heath Cline had a guy named Chuck Oliver on from an Atlanta radio station who goes around to SEC or ACC practices every week, and went to Auburn this week. He says that Cox is really physically beat up right now. That bodes well for Florida, especially if the defensive line can get into the backfield regularly.

10:12 – We’ve got some same “The Good The Bad and The Ugly” posters, bad puns on Chris Leak’s name, and so far I’ve only caught one pro-Florida sign saying that Albert wants seconds of Tiger. I still like my brother’s girlfriend’s sign from last week that said “Even Sigfried and Roy Could Tame These Tigers.” I know a camera man panned it slowly, but I still don’t know if it got on TV.

10:15 – This just in: West Virginia hasn’t played anyone yet. Oh oh, breaking news: The winner of WVU – Louisville will go undefeated, and Georgia knows how fast the Mountaineers are. WVU is lousy on defense, Corso rants, which is interesting because they’re the other team besides Cal that he picked to go to the national title game and he apologizes for Cal does wrong. Herbstreit just points this fact out as soon as I’m done typing it.

10:20 – A nice picture of Bo Jackson, who never became half the player of video game Bo Jackson.

10:22 – Before the break, Herbstreit tried to be clever by saying that the Big East big guns needed to watch out for Pitt, but really they don’t need to for two reasons: 1) Pitt is coached by the Wannstache, who is one of the worst big game coaches in recent memory, and 2) they don’t have the players to keep up with them. If you’re understaffed compared to your opponent, you’ve got to out coach them to win. That’ll never happen.

10:25 – The new clock rules suck, and the officials this year are missing a lot of calls on the field. Corso thinks they’ll amend the rules to go back to the old rules for the last two minutes of halves. We’ll see, but since offensive coaches hate them but defensive coaches love them, a decision to change them back will be in deadlock and never get overturned.

10:29 – Arkansas has had a nice year, and part of that is their new offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, the coach at a high school where Mitch Mustain went to high school.

10:31 – Houston Nutt apparently knew Malzahn for a while before hiring him, and he was able to get a few recruits to change to Arkansas for them. Malzahn has actually written a book on how to run an offense, for sale on Amazon. At least he’s brought some crazy trick plays.

10:33 – No Microsoft, I still don’t want to restart now. I don’t even know what MSXML is or why it needed an update. I hate Windows.

10:37 – Will Arkansas win the SEC West? Maybe, but beating Tennessee and LSU will be tough. If Auburn wins out, the Tigers might, but we’ll see. Fowler asks the guys what several teams all have in common, and while waiting for a response from the other two a guy in the crowd shouts “They suck!” Well done, whoever that was.

10:40 – Thanks to Auburn fans for bringing back the “Pac 10 Sucks” chant back. It’s truth, and needs to be said as often as possible to remind the uninformed masses.

10:42 – DeSean Jackson has better stats than Ted Ginn does, but why is Ginn lingering in Heisman discussions while Jackson is unheard of? Part Ohio State hype, part East Coast Bias, and part level of competition.

10:44 – Herbstreit baits the crowd with talk of USC beat Arkansas who beat Auburn and what does that mean, a classic logical fallacy. The crowd responds with more “overrated” chants for Cal and USC. Once again, well done. Don’t let them get away with that. The Pac 10 is weak, and USC will lose, maybe twice.

10:47 – Some pandering with gratuitous highlights of the 1994 Florida at Auburn game. Thanks.

10:51 – A nice fluff piece on Tim Tebow. The Auburn fans are targeting him, but as Fowler said he got through LSU fine. Herbstreit, of course, as a former quarterback didn’t like the two quarterback system, but it’s grown on him. The also point out that no one has knocked Tebow back. That’s true. He practically ran over LSU’s prize safety last week.

10:53 – Desmond Howard demonstrates Tebow’s plays, you know, if Tebow was a slow, right-handed former receiver.

10:54 – By the way, Publix’s Cheesy Quick is about a dollar less than Easy Mac, and it tastes exactly the same. Just a tip for you fellow students out there.

10:55 – Nope, I still don’t want to restart. Just like I said the last 5 times. Stupid Microsoft.

10:56 – Fortunately, despite what the song said, Big and Rich did not come to my city last week. In fact, I hope I’m never in the same city as those hacks.

11:01 – An somewhat interesting piece on Adrian Peterson and his father, who spent a lot of Adrian’s life in jail. As always when they do these things, they gloss over why the athlete’s relative got into jail, and in this case the people who raised Peterson too (his mother and step father).

11:03 – Wow, there’s no creativity in the signs in the crowd at all. Of course, it’s Auburn, so there you go.

11:05 – As Fowler pointed out, Herbstreit’s philosophy on Buy or Sell is sell low and buy high. I hope he has someone else doing his investments.

11:08 – We’ve got Mike Hart showing Desmond how not to fumble later in the show. I really think Penn State has a shot against Michigan this week since Hart will have to be the offense by himself. Mario Manningham is out, and Chad Henne doesn’t have enough weapons after him to be all that effective. That means the Nittany Lions will stack the box and stop Hart. When you stop Hart, Michigan is a 7-5 team like last year.

11:09 – It is 11:09 am, and Miami and FSU are still unranked, while Mizzou and Rutgers are. Life is good.

11:10 – Some funny stuff with the GameDay guys trading seats and imitating each other.

11:13 – Just as we all knew, Corso could never make it as host. Also, Fowler got some good jabs in pretending to be Kirk. Herbstreit could work on his Corso some, but he’s not bad at it.

11:16 – The crowd is getting restless. Herbstreit pulls out a Scarlet Knight mascot head to pick Rutgets over Navy, and Corso can’t help himself and pulls out a Navy hat. Lee tried to play it straight as the host, but he can’t contain his enthusiasm.

11:17 – It’s Rocktoberfest at Gatorland Kia so, uh, don’t miss out on those great deals on small cars. Has a local car dealership ever made a decent commercial?

11:19 – Sir Charles joins us on the phone. He’s always a great interview. He needs to turn the volume down on his TV, because there’s an echo effect like when people call in to radio shows with the radio still on.

11:22 – The Chuckwagon picks Auburn 21-17. Of course he does.

11:26 – Auburn’s 101 db is not nearly as load as Florida’s 111 db. Yeah, that’s right. I think there’s even more people there than there were in Gainesville last week since there’s absolutely nothing to do in the village of Auburn.

11:28 – Mike Hart just does not fumble the football. He’s a bit undersized, but he’s tough as nails and doesn’t put the ball on the ground. That’s going to keep him in the NFL for a long time.

11:30 – Penn State had a pep rally last night and Joe Paterno gave a rousing speech. They’re doing the white out thing today, which jumped the shark when the Miami Heat bandwagoneers “fans” used in the playoffs last year. Like all other Miami sports teams, they don’t have real fans, just a bunch of people who show up to be seen. And yes, I just made up a word.

11:33 – Thinking of AT&T (who just had a commercial), how is it that they are probably going to get to buy Bell South? Are there any Baby Bells left if they go? I thought the government meant it when they broke up that monopoly.

11:36 – I have no idea why Louisville is expected to do so well in the BCS while West Virginia languishes. I didn’t know a mediocre Miami team improved the Cardinals’ resume so much. Also, the computers love USC for some ungodly reason. I give up with the BCS.

11:39 – Now we get Mark May to talk about how awesome USC is. He’s the biggest USC fanboy in the country. He says that they deserve to be number 2 because “they won their games.” Yes, well so have Florida and Michigan, and both of them have had tougher schedules. Herbstreit calls him on this, and May counters with picking Auburn to win. This despite that their talking about who’s number 2 now, not after tonight.

11:42 – Apparently Auburn fans roll “Toomer’s Corner” after big home wins. Classy.

11:46 – Brandon Cox has had to overcome MG, a neuromuscular disease that harms muscles and can lead to paralysis. Now, he’s the quarterback of Auburn. That’s remarkable, but as a player, he’s no Jason Campbell. If Florida can stop Kenny Irons, Cox probably can’t win the game by himself. Especially since Auburn has average at best receivers.

11:49 – Auburn’s offensive line has been playing terribly of late, and Herbstreit thinks the Florida front seven will be a big difference. Corso highlights Marcus Thomas and Reggie Nelson. He thinks it’s a game where the tougher team will win. Good thing Urban learned how to be tough from Lou Holtz earlier this year. Yes, that was sarcasm.

11:50 – Shockingly, I still don’t want to restart my computer. I should have waited to install that update until after GameDay. Oh well.

11:54 – They mention the Wisconsin band being on probation. I’ve read beyond the stale AP report, and it’s some pretty bad stuff. I just wonder how that can be allowed to happen.

11:55 – The Auburn band meanwhile decides to play while the show is on air. Real classy guys. Do they play while the ball is live too?

11:58 – I still think Penn State has a great chance. They even have the revenge factor from last year. Herbstreit is calling the game, so he can’t make a pick, but Corso likes the Wolverines.

12:01 – Auburn is really banged up, and they are still reeling from Arkansas. Kirk finally learned his lesson for picking against Florida and likes the Gators. Corso picks Florida again after setting up the crowd by saying things like they have beautiful women there and that he wore an Auburn tie.

That’s all for GameDay, and that’s it until the Florida – Auburn preview later this afternoon.


“Madness” 2006

October 14, 2006

The only madness going on at Madness 2006 was that of fans who probably felt shafted. Granted, it’s hard to get that upset when admission was free, but that was an embarrassment for the defending national champs. The whole thing was just a commercial for frozen pizza, cell phone service, and the local utilities. I’m not validating them all by giving them a mention

It began with the dumb games as usual, like the crawl around and pick things up off the floor while blindfolded game, and a contest where answering trivia questions gave contestants a chance to putt across the entire basketball court diagonally to win a truck. It was the standard boring stuff.

Next, they introduced the women’s and men’s teams and had them walk in through the lower section crowds like the men’s team did during their championship celebration. Each player had a signed mini basketball that they tossed into the crowd after being introduced. One of my friends got Corey Brewer’s ball, so that was cool.

They then did a three point shooting contest of sorts, where two pairs of players alternated shots concurrently at the two baskets to see who could get to 10 made shots first. This is when we learned that Joakim Noah and Al Horford have been working on threes over the summer. They then had a dunk contest which, as has been the case since David Lee left, was pretty lame overall. Walter Hodge won, but it was sort of by default, really.

So after that they did their standard intrasquad scrimmage right? No, Billy said several times that they had practiced at seven, so they weren’t going to do it again for the fans. Goodnight. Yeah that’s it. That’s all there was. I mean, there also was Lee Humphrey, Taurean Green, Horford, and what looked like either Jack Berry or Garrett Tyler dancing with the Dazzlers again, and Billy pretending to drop the crystal basketball trophy and having it shatter to pieces. It was a fake trophy, and the crowd didn’t believe it was the real one for a second. Billy, sensing that no one really thought it was funny, later would say that it wasn’t his idea to do that. At least they didn’t trot out a “I guess we’ll have to get another one” line or anything.

Well, to bring it back to football, I decided to do a list of equivalents of people on the football team to their analogous basketball brethren.

Taurean Green: Chris Leak is the Taurean Green of the football team. This is the easiest one to do. Not only is there the parallel of the point guard being the quarterback of the basketball team, but also their demeanors are similar. They aren’t the flashiest or most vocal guys, but they are the steady hand at the wheel fully capable of being spectacular when they need to be.

Lee Humphrey: Jemalle Cornelius is the Lee Humphrey of the football team. They both are coaches’ favorites, both are stand-up guys on and off the playing surface of their choice, and both are humble and do everything their coaches ask. They are the glue guys – they help hold the team together. They both make big plays but will never make big headlines because of the other guys on their teams. The best part is that neither would have it any other way.
Corey Brewer: Dallas Baker is the Corey Brewer of the football team. They are versatile scorers who are more athletic than they look sometimes. Both have Big Man on Campus personalities, and for good reason, but that helps to drive them to get better rather than bask in the glory and slack off. Their respective teams would be more hurt by them going down with an injury than most realize. Last year we saw that with Brewer’s ankle; hopefully, we won’t have to see the Gators without Baker this year.

Al Horford: Brandon Siler is the Al Horford of the football team. Both get noticed by making big plays, and fortunately for Donovan’s and Meyer’s squads, they make them often. Neither is afraid of being physical, and they intimidate their opponents with their toughness. They are leaders, and their teams would be hurt more than most realize without them. They are also very consistent and consistently good. You know what you’re getting game in and game out with Horford and Siler, and you’re very pleased with what you get.

Joakim Noah: Here’s the tough one. Let me be clear about something: there’s no one on the football team like Joakim Noah. There’s no one on any team in any sport in any country with someone like Joakim Noah. He’s incomparable and inimitable, and speaks for himself in more ways than one.

That said, I picked two guys to equal Noah: Reggie Nelson and Tim Tebow. Nelson is the best defender on the team, has an exuberant personality, and has some wild hair at times. He also has a penchant for making big plays at crucial times. That sounds like Joakim, right? I add Tebow to that because he plays with the most visible emotion of anyone on the football team, and when he gets a head of steam going, there’s no stopping him easy. That definitely sounds like Noah. Plus, fair or not, for better or worse, no one gets the crowd riled up as much as Tebow does. Again, same with Noah and the basketball fans.

For now I’ll leave the comparisons with the starters and save Brandon James as Walter Hodge arguments for later. If anyone has any other comparisions they think are apt or have issues with mine, well, that’s why there’s that big ol’ comment box below.


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