Friday, September 19, 2008

Apples, Oranges, Pigskin (Update: What the fuck is Rob talking about?)

Welcome, Ladies and Gentlemen, to the season's first episode of Futile Superfans, Gridiron Chapter. In which one of us provides a profanity-laced but more than a little insightful preview of a major college football contest, and I write about William and Mary - profanity quotient TBD, as I'm making this up as I go along.

For this weekend's appetizer, Jimmye Laycock's (well, there we go with the profanity already) William & Mary Tribe takes on regional rival Norfolk State under the lights at Zable Stadium. (And, hey, according to this, venerable Zable's sporting a new FieldTurf rug. This is a tremendous development - much like Whitney, the old boy was thinning in all the wrong places.) Perhaps rival is a bit strong. The last time these two squads met, in 1985, Stan Yagiello was handing off to Michael "Pinball" Clemons, and I was still in high school. Teejay and Mark were barely potty-trained.

Both teams come into the game undefeated against FCS competition, each losing to mid-tier FBS teams. W&M kept it close against a lousy N.C. State team, falling 34-24 in Raleigh, while Norfolk State was drummed by Kentucky, 38-3. The Tribe is coming off its annual dismembering of VMI, while the Spartans won a close home game against North Carolina A&T.

I haven't watched a ton of film yet, but I'm guessing that W&M will be solid to quite excellent on offense while struggling to stop their opponents this season. The Green and Gold have averaged 436.5 yards of total offense per game in their first two (with an unusual for W&M 280 rushing yards per contest). And, unless I miss my guess, Norfolk State will be fast but lack the depth to compete with the Tribe for a full four quarters.

William & Mary's never lost to a MEAC opponent, carrying a 5-0 all-time mark into the contest. Which is, frankly, evidence of insidious bias that my liberal white guilt has a hard time stomaching. I'm gonna vote for the black guy in November to protest my college's record of intolerance.

GTB predicts: W&M 42, Norfolk State 31

Last weekend, Jerry commented that UGA is becoming the new Tennessee, and he couldn’t have been more right. The key word in that assessment was “becoming”, because Georgia’s not quite there yet and Tennessee is not quite dead yet. Georgia’s become a bigger threat to Florida in the SEC East race in recent years and last year’s bullshit celebration stunt may have amped the rivalry back up again but, quite simply, I don’t hate Georgia, its fans or its coach to the extreme levels that I loathe The University of Tennessee. Two of the five worst losses I experienced as a Florida student were at the hands of the Volunteers. As if that weren’t enough, their fans are by far the most obnoxious, annoying group of inbred hillbillies I’ve ever encountered in my life…and I grew up in the south and went to an SEC school so I’m pretty well versed on this subject. I hate anything and everything about Tennessee and nothing brings that hate out like the annual SEC opener for both Florida & Tennessee. It’s a special day. If by special you mean a day where I drink far too much, curse every third word and generally act like a fucking 12 year old for hours on end. If you can’t tell, I’m pretty psyched for tomorrow’s game. So psyched, in fact, that I decided to throw together a little preview.



Yeaap, that's the good stuff. Now, onto the game:

Tennessee Offense vs. Florida Defense: Both of these units have been under extreme scrutiny in the past year and half and are seen as the biggest weaknesses on their respective teams. Tennessee has brought in a new offensive coordinator (Dave Clawson) to revamp an offense that has struggled mightily in recent years (Erik Ainge has that effect on offenses). So far, the results have been mixed as new QB Jonathon Crompton has struggled with his decision making and accuracy. Meanwhile, Tennessee’s running game has looked good as Arian Foster and Montario Hardesty have benefited from running behind one of the SEC’s most experienced O-Lines.

Florida’s defense was flat out awful last year. The secondary was last in the league in passing yardage given up per game and, even that doesn’t accurately describe how horrible they were. The secondary wasn’t the only problem though, the defensive line was completely unable to generate any sort of pass rush with the front four which left a young, inexperienced secondary (3 first year starters) exposed for far too long and resulted in large chunks of yardage gained and an inability to get off the field on third down. Florida’s secondary is now a year older and wiser and the D-Line has looked much more physical through the first two games. While Florida’s defense appears to be much improved as a unit, the real test comes on the road Saturday against a very experienced offense (save for Crompton) that will look to run the ball 30-40 times and make big plays off of play action. A player to watch for on Tennessee will be TE Brandon Warren. He was a freshman All-American at FSU before transferring back home and sitting out last year. He’s a great pass catcher at TE and presents a tough matchup for the Gator LBs.

Key Matchup: UT O-Line vs. UF D-Line

Florida Offense vs. Tennessee Defense: Florida’s offense is as loaded at the skill positions as its been in a decade. Which is great…However, this abundance of weapons also has a downside. OC Dan Mullen often seems so intent on showing off his multitude of highly skilled athletes and imagination that he neglects to call plays according to the offense’s current rhythm or even based on what’s repeatedly shown itself to be effective. Guys don’t end up with enough touches to establish a rhythm for themselves and the offense becomes choppy and ineffective. The return of Percy Harvin to full strength should help alleviate some of this, as Harvin gives Mullen a second “in case of emergency” player on offense along with Tebow. When he needs a big play, Mullen should feel comfortable calling on either of these two, which should result in imaginative play calling without sliding too far down the scale to gimmicky, as has been known to happen during Mullen’s tenure. The unit to watch for Florida will be the O-Line, which has been less than impressive thus far (especially against Miami). The return of senior guard Jim Tartt (Sopchoppy, FL…represent!) should help solidify the interior of this line and allow youngsters like the Pouncey twins to concentrate on their individual assignments and proper execution. If Tartt’s return does have this effect, I’d expect Florida’s O-Line to return to being the strength that many anticipated it would be during the preseason.

As for Tennessee, while the D-Line and linebacking crew are both very solid and as good, or better, than Florida’s seen this year, it’s the secondary that poses the biggest challenge to the Gators. Eric Berry is the best DB in the SEC. He can play anywhere on the field and cover just about anybody. He’s moved to safety this year which means he’ll be more involved in pass defense than last years game (where he returned an interception for a TD). Additionally, Dee Morley is also back (I have no fucking idea how UT got him back in school) and will start alongside Berry at safety. For all of Tim Tebow’s strengths, he’s still emerging as a passer and has a tendency to lock on to his primary receiver. If he gets jittery in the pocket (see: Miami) or locks on to Harvin or Louis Murphy, I’d expect to see the Vols come down with a couple of picks. If he can be content to take what the D gives him both by running and checking down, then Florida’s shouldn't have a problem putting up 25-30 points in Knoxville.

Key Matchup: Tebow/WRs vs. UT Secondary

Special Teams: Florida’s special teams have been great under Meyer. The punt block team is consistently fantastic and looks better this year due to the presence of twin speedsters Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps flying off the edge. As for punt returns, well, I think you know about Brandon James. He’s the best return man in the country, and I don’t think its close. He’s been able to supply the Gators with momentum grabbing returns and great field position since he stepped on campus. I don’t know much about Tennessee’s special teams but I do know that the 87th Colquitt is suspended because of a DUI. This has to make Tennessee’s punt team somewhat less formidable and maybe even a touch slower in getting punts off. Tennessee also has a veteran kicker whereas Florida’s kicker (Jonathon Phillips) kicked his first collegiate FG to beat the point spread against Miami.

Key Matchup: Florida Punt Return/Block vs. Tennessee Punt Coverage

G:TB Pick: Tennessee’s going to play much better than many are anticipating, there’s just too many factors pointing in that direction for me to believe otherwise. They’re playing at home, they quit last year and got embarrassed, Florida’s been talking a little trash and they have the “no respect” card to play as well. With all that said, Florida pulls away late and wins…28-24. Have I mentioned that I hate Tennessee?



50 comments:

rob said...

see, w&m and florida are apples and oranges, and we're talking about pigskin. et voila.

but the additional profanity was a nice touch.

rob said...

'i really don't like tennessee. i can't stress that enough.'

that's fantastic.

Mark said...

I knew what you meant, Rob. However, I had no idea what that word you used over at the 'house (bailiwick) meant so I felt the need for some level of retaliation, pathetic as it may be.

Mark said...

Its tough call on what lines makes me laugh loudest in that video. Its either, "They some snitches" or "I'm not a dog person".

rob said...

i enjoyed 'i don't like pumpkins', too.

Mark said...

Yes, yes, that too is a highlight.

TJ said...

TEBOW SMASH...kenny chestnut?

TJ said...

Anthony Kim just drilled an old guy PGA official on that shot. Bad times.

rob said...

this is quite a collapse by kim/mickelson

TJ said...

I picked the epic Seattle/St Louis game in the post below.

TJ said...

Phil and Kato should be drawn and quartered. That was horrendous.

Mark said...

Ummm, Fargo is on Comedy Central right now. Did I miss something?

TJ said...

Dude, wood chippers are hilarious.

Jerry said...

I'll always hate Tennessee the most. My formative loss as a Gators fan was the 2001 game in The Swamp. This is my favorite game of the year.

Jerry said...

I also hate the MEAC, especially Hampton.

Mark said...

The 2001 loss to Tennessee is easily the #1 worst loss on my list but the loss in OT to Tennessee in Knoxville in 1998 was my first truly painful Tennessee loss. I'll never forgive Terry Jackson for his fmble on the goal line in that game.

It will be a long time before I hate another SEC team as much as I hate Tennessee.

Jerry said...

The Dallas Baker/50+ yard FG in Knoxville wasn't great either. But that 2001 game was just brutal. I've always said that Florida was the #2 team in the country that year and the only one that could give Miami a game.

By the way, I'm starting to get holes in my first Gators shirt, which makes me feel like a crusty veteran.

Jerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark said...

Yeah, the Baker game was bad on a number of levels.

I completely agree on the 2001 team.

rob said...

east carolina is such a fraud.

rob said...

you guys should hate auburn more. they really have no redeeming qualities. at least knoxville is a cool town.

rob said...

this is quite the nail-biter, mark.

rob said...

auburn and lsu bring it again. that was fun.

TJ said...

Tribe rolled, as predicted by robert...and JMU beat Appy St?

Mark said...

I dont enjoy anything more than watching the Gators completely dismantle Tennessee.

And, Oh God, does Jonathon Cromptom suck...

TJ said...

The Cardinals were last 2-0 in 1991. Their coach? Rob's boy Buges.

rob said...

i'm headed off to burnish my father of the year credentials at a county fair. good thing there's nothing on the telly this afternoon.

Mark said...

Sometimes I really feel bad for Rob.

TJ said...

So do little people. And carnies.

TJ said...

Hey rob, you're not missing much...only some fantastic golf and entertaining football. Enjoy the tilt-a-whirl.

Mark said...

I never, ever thought I'd be more into golf than NFL Football but its feeling that way right now.

Mark said...

So Anthony Kim's kind of a drunk? God, this guy gets cooler by the minute.

rob said...

hey guys! big gulps. alright.

i miss anything?

rob said...

love the crowd going batshit on hansen's overcooked wedge.

rob said...

whoa. jb holmes.

TJ said...

Do not ever pick the Rams. I am an idiot.

rob said...

did we make a 5th pick this week?

TJ said...

We have to do tonight's game...

rob said...

we've done so well so far - maybe you should flip a coin.

rob said...

classy move by jimenez. and the good guys win.

TJ said...

"Get off our porch"

rob said...

i admit that i have no idea what's going to happen week to week in the nfl right now.

TJ said...

Brian Billick just used the term "anti-human"

Geoff said...

Are you guys going to pick tonight's game as your fifth...or is Hughes' pick of the under in the Chicago game your fifth?

Dennis said...

We like Favre on Monday night and the Jets getting alllll those points....

rob said...

we do?

Geoff said...

Dissention at GTB...a team divided...

TJ said...

Rhym-O picked the Jets game as one of our original picks.

If Jerry wants to hold me to it, I verbally chose the Packers while over at the Sports Cave yesterday. Yep, I'm never allowed to pick two games again.

Geoff said...

Good lord. Get your act together.

Dennis said...

i'll take the blame for this one....i failed to submit a pick this week - too much repression for Dennis.