Thursday, October 29, 2009

Play Highsmith!...And Other Assorted Non-Sense

Hello All,

Well, I don’t know about you, but I am psyched for the roughly 323 “trick or treat” references the are sure to come during a game matching teams whose primary colors are orange and black AND after anything close to a trick play.

Speaking of excited, let’s take it down a notch on the message boards 'Cane fans. After the loss to Clemson, I learned that Randy Shannon will never be anything more than an 8 win coach, Sean Spence is too small and too slow to play linebacker, every assistant coach needs to be fired, Shannon is really just using the ‘Canes as part of his plan to become a highly paid defensive coordinator at a big-money school, Jacory Harris is the 5th best quarterback in the ACC and the ‘Canes are going to lose out. All of these taken directly from fan message boards…and these are the better boards that I read.

I think everyone is losing sight of the fact that Miami, while it did make a lot of mistakes, was beaten by three in overtime by a talented team, despite committing 4 turnovers and being without several key players. It was a bad loss, but it was not as terrible as it felt. It was the type of game that had the ‘Canes won those same message boarders would be writing about the virtues of Jacory’s calm under pressure and the development of Shannon as a head coach. Those three points, in the eyes of many fans, now serve as the difference between a young, promising program going nowhere but up and a program stuck in the mud.

The reality is that Miami has to put that gut punch loss behind it. The energy around the program turned sour very quickly thanks to the loss, and that is yet another problem to overcome. It is, after all, hard to win when even your biggest fans are telling you how much you suck.

Wake Forest is a tough, well coached team. This will not be a walkover for the ‘Canes, especially when you couple the discipline of the Deacons with their anger coming off two consecutive losses.

So here is the breakdown of what will be a tougher game then most people like to see, message board style.

Quarterback: A message boarder would say that Jacory is an overrated beneficiary of the U on his helmet and that Riley Skinner is by far a better decision maker and therefore quarterback. The reality is that Jacory has been outstanding. He has some turnover issues, but these are created by hanging on to the ball too long while he tries to get the ball downfield. It is a problem, but it is a better problem to have than, say, a quarterback with happy feet. Skinner is definitely solid, boasting a 16-9 touchdown to interception ratio and a ranking inside the Top 20 in national passer rating. EDGE: Miami

Running Back: A message boarder would say that Damien Berry is good and the rest of the backs suck. Bring on Lamar Miller! The reality is that Berry has been the homerun hitter, but both Coop and Baby J have been solid every down workhorses who have the ability to break off a long run. Coop will be the workhorse, as Baby J is out this week, but all three have played well and deserve the carries they will get. Berry , Mike James and Lee Chamber swill have to step up to fill the void. Wake Forest has a steady run game lead by Josh Adams and Kevin Pendergrass; Pendergrass can go the distance. EDGE: Miami

Receivers: A message boarder would say that the crew is underperforming. Why can’t LaRon Byrd who up every game? Why is Aldarious so fragile? Why is Hankerson so slow? Benjamin runs awful routes? This is called “not seeing the forest for the trees”. At least one receiver has been a stud in each game, and the fact that one has not been the clear cut go to guy is more a product of injuries and matchups than anything else. Strength in numbers is the takeaway lesson here. Wake’s Marshall Williams is their biggest homerun threat, and he will make some big plays. EDGE: Miami

Offensive Line: Message boarders would say that the whole group is terrible. In reality, there aren’t any individual studs, but the unit has played very well against teams like Oklahoma and Clemson, so it isn’t all bad even though it isn’t pretty. The problem is that they played down to the level of UCF. I have no idea what they will do this week, but I do know that Wake’s o-line is giving up 2.5 sacks per game and and their scoring offense ranks 83rd in the nation. EDGE: Even

Defensive Line: Message boarders would say that they are all too weak, get no push and should be replaced by true freshmen next year (great logic, right?). Reality is that while Bailey and Marcus Robinson have played well consistently, the line is not at a point yet where it can generate pass rush on its own on every play. It just isn’t. Wake, on the other hand, features John Russell on their line and that’s about it. EDGE: Even

Linebackers: Message boarders would say that Arthur Brown is a bust already (after just over 1.5 seasons) and the already overrated linebackers are screwed without Spence, who is the most overrated. Reality is that the ‘Canes are definitely hurt without Spence (a missile) and Jordan Futch (a crazy person) but will be alright if Ramon Buchanan and Brown can combine to be nothing more than effective taking Spence’s snaps. Wake is lead by Dominique Midgett, but Miami still has McCarthy and Sharpton to bang in the run game. EDGE: Miami

Secondary: Message boarders would say that this is the worst secondary in Miami history and that none of these guys have any business starting because they are not Ed Reed. Well, it is true they are not Ed Reed. It is ridiculous to expect that. Lost in the confusion last week is that the secondary played pretty well, and that it was the linebackers that got shredded in pass coverage. Brandon Harris is a stud, but the safeties have yet to be tested much in coverage (meaning we know NOTHING about their skills). Wake is lead by Kenny Okoro at corner and Cyhl Quarles back deep. They will, as always, be well coached and disciplined in their schemes. EDGE: Even

Special Teams: Message boarders would say we have no kicker and no coverage. True, the coverage sucks. But the kicker thing is ridiculous. Bosher is the best in the coneference if not the country when it comes to field goals, and he has been great punting as well. Not his fault he’s the best cover guy. BIG EDGE: Miami

Coaching: Grobe is a better gameday coach than Shannon at this point. EDGE: Wake

GUEST PICKER: Last week, Trent nailed it to give the guest two in a row. One more, that’s called a winning streak. It has happened before.

This week, I’m stayin’ in the family and giving my little brother Billy (who is in a frat) another shot at picking the game. Take it away Billy!

"We, the readership, have eagerly waited; actually that may just have been me, but finally Stein on the Sidelines comes back to it roots. Its very simple big brother, when I put a prediction in the universe, it comes into fruition (like when he picked Ole Miss to steam roll South Carolina).

Auburn, Alabama: A border town of nice boutiques, Atlanta’s finest co-eds who are incapable of garnering acceptance into UGA (naturally creating a jealous hatred of the black and red), and a football program that ranks second in Alabama in everything.

Auburn is steeped in culture nonetheless. They are so close to Ole Miss in off field tradition, in fact, they even stole a back stabbing, c#$% sucking coach from us . They do it right there, from the barbecue to frocketed t-shirts.

Now let’s get down to the facts. The two are coming into this game on opposite ends of the “We need to win this game to prove something” spectrum. Auburn is riding a three game losing streak after starting out 5-0. Ole Miss, on the other hand, has won their last two .

A month ago I would have realistically given Gene Chizik’s squad the upper hand over the Rebs. However, these are both completely different teams from a month ago.

Last weekend The Tigers were incapable of running the football against the Tigers. Chris Todd was intercepted twice, and the Tiger defense was incapable of stopping Jarrett Lee from taking their last drive to the house.

Bayou Cajuns pucker your butt hole: I’m sorry, but Jarrett Lee? I thought he was run out of Red Stick permanently after the "Magnolia Bowl Blunder" last season (I am not even sure what he means by that, but whatever blows his little skirt up).

The Rebels are back on the road for the first time since the Vanderbilt game. I’m sorry to say I can’t recap that one; I hid the TV clicker so no one could interrupt me watching Miami beat Oklahoma (BOOM). But the Rebels have looked sharp the last two games after suffering an embarrassing loss to Alabama at home.

I anticipated an offensive outpouring against Alabama-Birmingham, which is exactly what I got. Note to Heisman voters: UAB’s quarterback has mine, that guy is impossible to take down.

Everybody finished chuckling? I figured that would be nicer to them than saying the token UAB fans in Oxford were very possibly ugliest couple I have ever seen.

In real games, the Ole Miss offensive line finally gave Snead time to throw the ball, and when he has time, he can make things happen. Coach Nutt finally used Dexter McCluster in his proper all-purpose role, gaining about half of our 550 offensive yards himself.

The Hungry Landshark D is the X-factor for the Rebels. They’re too fast and too stout for The Auburn offense. In order for Auburn to win the War Eagle better clip Greg Hardy during its flight; he’ll most assuredly hurt something enough not to play. Since I don’t reckon that’ll happen, the boys from Dixie are coming into town and there is blood in the water.

Ole Miss 27- Auburn 20

Side note: There was never a need to rename the rivalry game between Ole Miss and LSU the “Magnolia Bowl.” The most important game of our season now makes us sound like a floral company. I know the guy who headed the committee to change it; I can only guess by now he’s been killed in action by his own troops (well constructed reference, Billy, well constructed). Hotty Toddy."

MY PICKS: Last week I went 6-5 to up the record to 23-28. I also missed my sixth straight upset special. I think we showed signs of progress. We just have to keep practicing hard and build from week to week.

Virginia Tech over UNC: Well, the Heels couldn’t hold a three score lead at home vs. Florida State in primetime. Do I think they will beat the Hokies on the road in primetime? No.

West Virginia over USF: Screw your USF. Two weeks in a row. Screw you.

Georgia Tech over Vanderbilt: Do I think that they are the best team in the ACC? No. Am I pumped to watch them destroy and SEC team? Hell yes.

Tennessee over South Carolina: Tennessee by a field goal. Also, I am smirking to myself as I write this.

Duke over UVA: Don’t laugh, Duke is playing good football and Virginia is beat up after that game against Tech.

USC over Oregon: Too much hype around the Ducks. Let's not forget what happened to the Ducks when they played a fast, talented, physical Boise State team. If I were the Trojans, I'd stay away from the postgame handshake. Sorry Tim.

Oklahoma State over Texas: Upset special number one; call it Upset Special Lite. Oklahoma State will do just enough to knock off a Texas team that is begging for it on the road at night.

And here it is…the UPSET SPECIAL: Georgia over Florida

Wishful thinking? Definitely. Unlikely? Well, it wouldn’t be the upset special if it weren’t. But Florida is not playing well on offense, and Georgia ain’t Arkansas or Mississippi State. If Georgia can score a few touchdowns, watch out. Sports Illustrated cover: TRICKED!

Guard the inbound passer.

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