A DemGaz headline last Sunday morning read, “Mission Accomplished.” I'm assuming that's irony, considering how fraught with implication those two words have become since Dubya swooped onto an aircraft carrier four years and thousands of casualties ago. Even though it's sometimes a struggle not to think of the side-mouthed doublespeak of the Bush administration when listening to our shamelessly dissembling coach on the Hill, I'm not ready to compare the rest of our football season to the seemingly endless (and deadly) conflict in Iraq. But still.
Once again last week, sloppy play by the opposing team kept our offense from having to put in much of a game. Seven turnovers by the Florida International House of Pancakes (hat tip to woopig.net) made for a pretty easy victory. Maybe our defense had something to do with that, but more likely it came down to their pint-sized O-line and frantic passing “attack.” Say what you will about our slim chances for the rest of the season, at least we're going to see quality opponents and competitive football games.
The Gamecocks of Stephen Colbert's home state are headed to Reynolds Razorback stadium this weekend following two tough losses to Vanderbilt and Tennessee, and the Old Ball Coach is desperate for a W. I was holding my breath for a Smelley-Dick showdown (heh), but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. South Carolina's Chris Smelley will be riding the pine on Saturday and Casey Dick might still be too woozy to play.
South Carolina's formerly supplanted starter Blake Mitchell came in last week and had a fantastic game in a heartbreaking loss to the Vols, going an astonishing 31-45 and looking every bit the part of Spurrier's first-string QB until the last few snaps of the game. Sure enough, Smelley's benched and Mitchell's the new starter. If he turns in a performance that comes within a mile of last week's, he's going to pick our overrated secondary apart. (The Hogs are inexplicably ranked first in the nation in pass defense, benefiting from the unsurprising nutritional value of cupcake diet.)
On our side of the ball, David Lee's son-in-law, Nathan Emert, played most of the game last Saturday, turning in a serviceable performance that didn't show so much in the numbers as in the way he looked at more than one receiver after taking a snap. With Marcus Monk determined to take the field, unhindered by anyone who might be looking out for his future, the starting QB will have one more target than fullback Peyton Hillis, who continues to lead the Hogs in receiving, as well as all-around badassitude.
On the ground, DMac should see his first Heisman-worthy performance of the late season. Though last week's numbers are miniscule by his standards, he'll have several more opportunities to prove he's worthy of consideration. He's unlikely to disappoint.
I may not buy this “new season” stuff one bit, but the butterflies in my stomach think it's August. Nothing but SEC from here on out. I'm just happy to have a game we can look forward to watching, and ideally a win fans can take seriously.