Wednesday, November 23, 2005Ten Questions: FSU-Florida Style..
So without further adieu, here are ten questions with Orson Swindle and Stranko Montana, Gator fans extraordinaire and the geniuses behind Everyday Should be Saturday
1) What the hell happened to Chris Leak? He used to be good, especially the way he threw those bubble screens, now he looks lost. Has he been hanging out with Chris Rix or something? And his height is listed at 6'0. Is that a joke? I'm guessing he's about 5'9. What's your take?
1. We're guessing a case of cerebral herpes, Corey, since it's as good a guess as any we've heard this season. And while we're joking (maybe) about the cerebral herpes bit, there's an element of truth there---Leak's never had to make a read before this year. Really, not one read in his two previous years of experience as the Florida qb. Zaunbrecher/Fedora sent in the signs, they lined up, and the whole offense took a peek to the sideline for the read once the d was set. Leak then either went to the assigned receiver on the play or to his trusty checkdown receiver squatting in the flat.
This year he's been asked to think and chew gum at the same time, and the results have been (yes) Chris Rix-bad, minus the last-minute victory pulled fresh from the asscrack that Rix pulled off against Florida. He's short, he doesn't like to run with the ball, and he doesn't seem to be able to make the quick reads a qb must make in this offense. He pirouettes when you want him to stiff-arm; he throws a three-yard curl when the skinny post is wide open.
All of this is a shame since, as our reader Jim K. pointed out to us, Leak's had the onus of THE CHOSEN ONE since he stepped on the campus. In the dankest years of Coach [NAME REDACTED]'s reign, we at least had the hope that our nationally coveted blue-chipper would redeem us against all odds. Unfortunately for Leak, he bears the burden of years of frustrated expectations, and little short of a national title would fulfill them.
2) Okay enough with the backhanded compliments, I'm willing to offer a trade: How about Reggie Nelson for Kyler Hall? Before you say "hell no" remember Hall provides "leadership". And is leadership one of those coined phrases for "slow white guy"?
We won't say "hell no"--it's not strong enough. Reggie Nelson hits people like he believes he has the power to separate limbs from their body with sheer force. Where ever he is, good things happen for you and bad things like concussions and turnovers happen for the opposition. He's the best safety we've ever had at Florida--ever, ever, ever. So a "fuck no!" delivered in Dave Chapelle's voice would be my response, followed by a fierce interpretive dance number demonstrating our fervent belief in Nelson's ability to play football like a wolverine on PCP.
In other words, he's the anti-Kyle Jackson of our secondary.
Other code words associated with white football players:
"keystone of the defense/offense"
"blocking tight end"
"has a motor that won't quit"
3) Two years ago the Gators were upset by Ole Miss, last year the Gators were upset by Mississippi State, this year it was South Carolina and almost Vanderbilt...Does Kentucky have a legit shot in 2006?
Given the trend...sure, why not? While we're at it, how 'bout Duke for Florida State's shocking loss of 2006, as well? This might be one of the few things FSU fans and UF fans can commiserate on: the sudden vulnerability to conference teams we burned like cheap garbage in the '90s. In a sane world, we'd never pick Kentucky to last a nanosecond against Florida--but here we are in 2005 watching Vanderbilt nail Tennessee to the wall in Neyland.
The only solace we can find here is that our problems came as a result of institutional incompetence, while FSU's is directly attributable to Bobby Bowden's vile nepotism.
4) We might as well talk about the game a little. This game hasn't had national title implications for a few years. Are we headed towards Egg Bowl territory? Who's to blame for this?
Two angles, one at a time.
Strategy side: can't see this bearing out well for Florida, if only because the FSU d is soooooo damn fast (especially A.J. Nicholson, whose off-season tasering only made him madder, and Ernie Sims, women's studies major.) Like we said above, when quick reads and fast moves are required, Leak tends to crumple, especially when the o-line is still wobbling around.
Jeff Bowden, though, is still stealing paychecks and wearing a headset. That makes it pretty much an even split going in for the enlightened wagerer. The line, as many have already opined, is a punt by Vegas.(Florida by 6.5). It'll be closer than that and not pretty.
Angle two: relevance. This game isn't relevant anymore, and we know what's to blame: Ron Zook and the expansion of the ACC. Florida State can't coast anymore through their regular season schedule, and the Zooker's hackjob on the program will be felt for at least two years.
Those aren't suppositions, those are facts; the old ACC schedule would have hid some of the weaknesses of the current regime, even Jeffy's abominable play-calling and botched qb-molding. Zook, for all the hullabaloo about his recruiting, seemed to pick players straight off the experts' charts, not based off his own suspicions about the player's potential or character. And doing that will get you a crew of undisciplined blue-chippers without a marked team identity--exactly the sort of esprit d'moi that Meyer's spent the better part of ten months trying to beat out of his players.
We're not headed toward Egg Bowl territory yet, but the team that's got more upside to bring to the game over the next five years is undoubtedly Florida, with the stage set in Tally for an ugly succession piece straight from the Alabama playbook: a series of coachs who cannot possibly live up to the reputation of their legendary predecessor.
5) Why hasn't Jemalle Cornelius really stepped up? He's not representing Polk County like I expected. Would a change to the Nation of Islam help out his game? I mean doesn't Jamaal Cornelius-Abdul Shabazz sound much tougher? Who's gonna shut down a guy named Shabazz? And is it Jemalle or Jamelle? Do you know? Does he even know?
Injury, mostly, but also because Leak can't get the ball to anyone with two linebackers punching him in the nuts. A conversion to Islam may help, but we've seen little evidence to support this hypothesis. Plus it would get him an instant call from the Department of Homeland Security, which we doubt would help his focus on the field.
If he--and it's Jeh-malle, we think--continues to come along like we think he can, he'll be frightening next year. He completed the theft of the Vandy game with a Charles Rogers-esque catch, and is showing signs of being a consistent mid-to-deep threat over the middle.
Oh, and he shouldn't change his name, since he already sounds like the villainous African arms dealer in a James Bond movie.
6) I can't believe I've went this far without an Urban Meyer question. I thought he was supposed to be a good coach? Has the SEC's toughness caught him by surprise or is the lack of Samoans on the Gator squad? In Utah he could recruit some serious Samoan linemen...can't do that here in Florida.
It would be foolish to say that the SEC didn't surprise him--or to imply that he didn't overestimate both his own ability to implement his offense and Chris Leak's ability to run it. Again, facts are hard to avoid when you've got numbers. 7-3 wasn't what a lot of people expected on November 22.
Calling anything but a good coach, though, would also fly in the face of fact. He's taken two crap programs and turned them into instant winners. Why he can't take a mas dysfunctional one like the Florida program and take an 8-4, 7-5 squad from 2005 and go 10-1 next year? It wouldn't be a stretch, especially given his bona fides and the relative chaos that is the SEC right now.
You have touched on one ugly public secret of the program, though: a total lack of Samoan-ness. Good teams have 'em, so should we. They could even bring some badass Polynesian war dance with them, much like the All Blacks in NZ rugby. Our proposal is even more radical, though: we want only massive, powerful, gay Samoans like Esera Tualo, the first openly gay NFL player. Given the homophobia in college athletics, what's going to bug a defense out more than five guys in tight pants whose sole goal is to prevent penetration during the game and encourage it afterwards? Answer: nothing. QEDMF.
7) Jokes aside. What's your favorite FSU-Florida memory, the one you wouldn't give up for anything?
We don't have many happy ones, so the usual suspects are flooding back to us now...we'll take 1997, 32-29. We watched the curl and go float into Jacquez Green's hands as he came sprinting toward the north endzone. The center at the time was Wyley Ritch, and just before they snapped the ball to Fred Taylor he shook his fist in the air to the crowd, causing everyone in the stadium to lose their freaking mind. We've never wept for joy at anything---not a single thing--in our personal life, but that night we cried like a baby watching Fred Taylor plunge across the goal line. Sitting at a bar following the game and watching Samari Rolle weep on television about Florida ruining their season was pretty savory, too.
8) Right now the spread is Florida -5.5, is that line appealing enough for Adrian McPherson to get in on the action? And are you surprised McPherson hasn't lent his name to one of those sports books in the tropics or at least done a week of guest picks for Oddjack or something?
McPherson's in the grip of a redemptive media narrative now, but what he did was the kind of petty shitbird larceny you have to dredge up every time he's mentioned. Offshore casino stuff might be too technical and quasi-legitimate--we're thinking something like "AD's Backstreet Dominoes, live on OLN." Plus AD would steal and fence the computer before he ever got a chance to log on anywhere.
9) When you found out that the culprits who stole the FSU championship trophies were Gators, how quickly did you assume one of them was Jabar Gaffney?
Speaking of petty larceny...at least Peter Warrick never threw a kid and his scooter into a lake, right? We were dismayed to find out the small-time thieves were UFers, since we at the University pride ourselves on alumni who go for the big swindles, not the little ones, rackets like law, journalism, or the greatest swindle of all, public office. (UF has more elected representative alumni in Congress than any other uni; whether we should be proud of this is highly debateable.) To see them stoop to the small stuff is a knock on us, to be sure.
10) And finally I need your prediction....on the Arizona-Arizona St. game? I've got the Sun Devils by two scores. What about you?
Reverse course, Corey---the Sun Devils are, with Tennessee, one of the biggest disappointments of the season. Arizona by a td for no reason other than wild-ass guessitude.
Thanks to the guys for having an equally mean sense of humor and I wish all a happy Turkey day!