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Seven predictions for 2008

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Nobody's ever truly held accountable for how glaringly wrong most predictions turn out to be. That doesn't mean we pay any less attention when somebody tells us that Wesley Clark will be Obama's VP candidate. And that certainly doesn't mean I'm not gonna make predictions for the 2008 season. At least when sports predictions go the other way, they don't have the sting of real-world relevance.

I refuse to make scoring predictions, or even record predictions. (Oh, OK. 7-5, 4-4 in SEC play). I prefer broad, general prophecies that could almost certainly be true. Treat them like your horoscope.

One. Casey Dick's numbers will be great, but his decision-making will make him a thorn in our sides. I have perfect faith in the Petrino brothers' ability to prepare a competent QB, and I also think the system is engineered to inflate numbers, but I don't think they can train the panic out of a QB who's spent the last two seasons throwing with his eyes closed.

Two. Our defense will allow no fewer than 14 points per game. It'll be in quick bursts, too. Three to four times a game, the machinery will just break down. Crossing patterns are going to eat us alive.

Three. Michael Smith will have several hundred-yard games. The field's going to look twice as big with Petrino coaching, and the 5'7” speedster is gonna have plenty of room to dart around.

Four. London Crawford will drop enough passes to make us almost forget about the many, many great catches he does make. Almost.

Five. DJ Williams will live up to the hype. And if he doesn't, Ben Cleveland will.

Six. We're gonna lose that Homecoming game against Tulsa. I'm no Malzahn groupie, but they'll simply outscore us.

Seven. We will romp Ole Miss. I think it's pretty clear that Houston Nutt hired defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix from under Spurrier so he could hire Derrick Nix from under Petrino so he could find a way to beat the Hogs in the most toxic environment he's ever encountered. Why else would he want the guy whose defense he tore apart in 2007? I mean, other than the clear power relationship that that establishes between them? Because his brother Derrick Nix was formerly a coordinator under Petrino and presumably knows pretty well the Way of the Shark.

Still, Colonel Reb's gonna need a hazmat suit to survive Oct. 25 on the Hill. Petrino's not good because of his system but because of the way he uses that system on game days. He's a real play caller. Nutt doesn't have a prayer. No amount of Nix is gonna fix that.

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