The Hangover, week 4

In which a 40 year old Commodore supporter stares at the empty handle of Bulleit while wondering a) why the air tastes like absinthe and b) how he's going to get this hobnailed boot out of his ass...

Welp. That happened.

Problem is, you can't tell any more from this week's game than from last week's. In both cases, one team completely outclassed the other at every level, so you know absolutely nothing. It's tough to know what lessons to take from this game, aside from "don't play road games at night against top-5 conference opponents with an ax to grind." This was always going to be the hardest game on the schedule, but it's a worse kicking than this team has ever taken in the Franklin era.

So first things first: quarterback controversy? Apparently not. It looks from here like the management intends to ride Jordan Rodgers as far as they can. There have been rumblings in some quarters that the team is pushing for ACS, but I don't know how much to credit Twitter rumors. In any event, the QB isn't the problem, as far as I'm concerned; it's twofold:

1) We need a better O-line, and quickly. We need QB protection and RB push. It may be time to get some of the young guys cooking and see what they can contribute, and OL should be a particular point of emphasis this year for recruiting. The number of false starts alone are alarming.

2) We need better play-calling. Testudo Times warned us two years ago "hope you like bubble screens" but the number of designed QB runs is getting alarming to me. I don't know how much Donovan is calling what he's told to call, but overall I have been underwhelmed with his work this season. The deep shots, the trick plays - the overall level of creativity seems to have been diminished and the results aren't too encouraging.

The true measure of CJF as a coach is about to be taken. This team is discouraged, and why wouldn't they be, they're 1-3 against possibly the toughest schedule any SEC team has taken on this year (#5 on the road, then-#9 and likely-#6 today) at home, a still-undefeated and should-be-ranked BCS-conference OOC game on the road - and when's the last time an SEC team did that? Not neutral-site, but really road? Tennessee at UCLA? Maybe?). But looking down the stretch - Mizzou there and Florida home could both conceivably be had. And then? Auburn home, UMass home, some combination of Ole Miss and Kentucky on the road (and if we can't get a road SEC win there, then you can start the Same Old Vandy talk, ROBBIE CALDWELL beat Ole Miss in Oxford), then UT home and Wake away...

Think about this: If we played this season in reverse - start with Wake and UT, especially with the crowd we had for Cocky, then the road parlay, then home to UMass, Auburn and Florida in succession, then the road parlay with Mizzou and Georgia, then Presby for homecoming, at Northwestern and home against South Carolina to finish the year? What do you think, 8-4? 9-3? Hell, maybe 10-2? If the same team that finished hot against UT and Wake last year starts this season in that order, with a reliable field goal kicking game - why not?

But you play in the order you're given, and as a result we're looking at a very real chance of 1-5 before Auburn comes to town. From there, though, you have to think 5-1 is realistic in a vacuum, meaning another 6-6 can still be had. If our baseball team could pull out of their start last year, why not football? If Coach Franklin can coach, this team will not go into its shell - they will come out, they will fight back, and they will prevail.

Postscript: I hate being that guy. You have no idea how much I hate being that guy. If we had our shit together, it wouldn't make that much difference. But between Azubike's phantom kicker hit and the Jordan Matthews catch that was ruled out of bounds and not reviewed and the Jordan Rodgers TD that WAS reviewed and reversed in the fourth quarter of a six-TD blowout? We will never, ever, ever, EVER get a fair shake from SEC officiating. This isn't sour grapes, or excuse-making, this is a fact, and it is indisputable.

The "SEC Random Officiating Event Generator" isn't all that random; the Georgia fan I watched with last night himself said "it's weird to be on THIS side of those calls and not see Florida getting them all." The balance of officiating in this conference will always tilt toward the ranked team, and that's just the way it is. Our choices are to bitch and moan, or to work hard to overcome its effects, and if we have to be twice as good just to beat our opponents and the zebras alike, well, we just have to be twice as good. I don't like it any more than you, but the only other option is to see if the ACC wants a 16th to go with Notre Dame.

Public Service Announcement: Costco has Maker's by the handle for $34.

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