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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Orson Swindle on Southern Miss at Florida, from a Gator perspective

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A mere five days from the dramatic, long-awaited debuts of their adopted programs in bloody struggle against one another, SMQ sat down with prominent blogger/uber-Florida fan Orson Swindle over lollipops made from reduced olive brine, olive flavoring and salt crystallized in isomalt and stuffed with blue cheese to discuss the state of their respective teams, and of college football in general, specifically the relative socioeconomic effects of the paternal hierarchy enabled by the hegemonic ethos of the sport's corporatist ruling class.

Instead, we wound up getting smashed, inappropriately hitting on our waitress, brawling over the legacies of Michael Tobias and Ed Chester, getting tossed out onto the street in a heap and slurringly dictating this and the following from the back of a cab before being booted from it, too:

SMQ: What are you hoping to see from this game, realistically? In other words, how much can you read into what happens Saturday as a preview of the rest of the season?

Orson: It will determine the course of Florida football as we know it for the next fifty years, SMQ.

It's actually not that important, but it does represent a game of real value in that it combines "most likely gonna win yawn stretch game" against an out-of-conference smaller foe with a legitimate test of where the Gators stand coming out of fall camp. USM has the reputation of being a giant-killer without actually slaying all that many giants. In other words, for game one two weeks before going to Knoxville to play the Vols, they're pinup model perfect, and not just on the surface of things.

The Golden Eagles' defense is notoriously feisty, something we'll need to see since Leak got two free passes in the fluffy prelude to being stymied by the Tennessee D last year. Yet it's not too much of a bad thing, since their secondary is shot through with inexperience and our offensive strength happens to lean on our deep, immortal crew of of Highlander wideouts. So it'll be a challenge where we need it (up front) but a gimme where we can likely score when we really have to (through the air just about anywhere past the linebackers).

The offense...well, the offense could get hurt. We mean that, as in thrown aside, trampled, mugged, hit with tire irons, and hurt. You may recall the Orwell line,"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." These are those men, and we are the ones sleeping comfortably at night because of them. On our behalf, they will do harm to a USM offense that has been outgained in C-USA play consistently for two years now. Prayer, as always, helps, unless we're talking about Brandon Siler. Nothing will help you with him, and bullets will only make him angrier.

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Brandon Siler: Can only be stopped by driving a stake through his heart

SMQ: 1-10, how concerned are you about this game? Is there any particular aspect of Southern Miss that concerns you?

Orson: Take it as a 5 for "Respectful and properly wary." We doubt Meyer will have the team thinking four easy laps around the fifteen minute clock and out; they know USM's got a knack for keeping things close, and that everyone's soft-peddling expectations thanks to off-season chatter about the schedule, the season, and the excellent flag football quarterback they're sporting under center.

USM's overall M.O. of being sound on special teams, stout on defense--especially through the line--and somehow winning games despite doing diddly-poo on offense. Teams that can do this should scare the hair off your knuckles, and with good reason: they can hang around, look like they're doing bupkis for three quarters, and then enter the fourth surrounded by the aura of potential upset around them. They're doubly frustrating because as an overdog it feels less like them winning and more like you losing to yourself. The lasting implications of games like these are, as you cannily noted with the Nebraska and Alabama examples in your review, damaging, persistent, and season-wrecking.

The real indicator of whether Florida came to play will ultimately be Rece Davis. Rece Davis breaks in game for to alert viewers about "shocking developments" in-game. If Rece Davis doesn't mention our broadcast at any point between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., we'll toast his name gleefully and call the night a success. If he does, we'll be waiting with the brick in hand, ready to kill the evil box showing us things we don't want to see with one surehanded toss.

SMQ: Is there anything specific about USM - other than
the obvious talent gap - you think the Gators can exploit?

Florida can exploit two things:

1. The secondary. Tasty and full of holes, it's angel food cake for Chris Leak and the wideouts. Most of the indications from practice have been a greater reliance on the deep ball, a trend beginning with the Outback Bowl and continuing through this season. You'll see at least five good ones, with at least three going to Dallas Baker, identifiable as the one with arms hanging to his knees with the hands of a gecko. He's not a bad player, from what we hear.

Since we think Florida's run offense will be as anemic against you as it was against every other opponent of substance, we'll call for a ton of passing early to attempt to knock the will out of USM's skull in abrupt, rude fashion. If that doesn't work, well, we'll be hearing from Rece, most likely.

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Hidden indicator of USM success: Rece Davis face time

2. The O-line. This says less about USM's O-line and more about Florida's d-line, which if as good as advertised should be making four-man clothesline runs into the backfield all night. Fear Scoop.

SMQ: Given the planned karaoke-related debauchery of the EDSBS tailgate in Atlanta, how much of this game are you planning to even watch?

Orson: All of it. The tailgating will be work, so we'll be sticking to one form of alcohol only. (At EDSBS, this is what passes for "professional discipline.) We'll be able to tailgate a bit, get the all the video footage and schmoozing we'll need, and then retire to the nearest sports bar or even back to the EDSBS lair for the entirety of the game. Festivity's nice, but once the whistle blows it's time to get your Viking on and burninate stuff. Our whistle, regardless of what else is going on in college football, blows at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Everything else is gravy.

SMQ: How will you react if Florida loses?

Orson: Agony. Hair-pulling. The piling of ashes upon the head. The mad thumping of our fist against our chest. It will all happen at once and it will not resemble anything in the neighborhood of pretty. Then we will weep for five minutes before posting a 15,000 word screed about the need to excommunicate Pope Urban stat.

For the sake of the English language, let's all hope that stays in the realm of the hypothetical, shall we?

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2:13 PM

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