State of the Season: A Picture in Time

Ed:  This is not the Whiskey Wednesday post-game. Nor is it a poor substitute for Whiskey's dripping satire, biting wit, and unmerciful cynicism.  It is, rather, a snap-shot of our situation - a few observations many have already thought in their own homes or voiced in their scotch klotches.  

We can handle an inordinate number of three-and-outs.  It's the turnovers that'll kill you.  In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Sundance confides in Butch that he can't jump into a river at the bottom of the canyon because he [Sundance] can't swim.  Butch starts laughing and says, "It's the fall that's gonna kill you."  The turnovers have not exactly gone unnoticed by the media and blogosphere, but they seem to have taken a back-seat in the discussion to the glaring and general ineptitude of the offense.  The pass completion percentages.  The total yards.  But, when talking about reasons that the Rebels have yet to beat a team with a pulse, one cannot ignore this statistic - Jevan Snead's four interceptions against Alabama only tied the previous high of Snead's young career.  And with a marvelous defense - among the best in the country - turnovers, and not punts, are what will put the Rebels out of the game.

To some degree, time will reset expectations.  If this sounds like loser language, then, well, such is an appropriate posture today.  Ole Miss did lose, after all, and in doing so, hopes of a division title that were perfectly realistic even after the loss to South Carolina are extremely remote today.  Time itself, though, will temper the frustrations of those whose attitude was "Atlanta or bust."  If, somehow, this season ends at 9-3 with three wins between Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, and State, few will be openly lamenting the "disappointing season."  And those who do will be admonished to get over it.

Tyrone Nix was abused by South Carolina fans for his late-season defensive meltdowns.  Without reference to any objective reason why the Rebel defense might soil the bed at any point this season, this is just one example of a line of criticism offered by our conference brethren that we have either ignored or discounted.  Practically anyone from the Natural State might be able to offer other examples.  Cope however you and your therapist think is best.  For me and my house, we will vivdly imagine worst-case scenarios and rejoice when they don't come true.

Oh, did they say 62,657?  The record crowd to see a sporting event in Mississippi has not been touted the way one might have thought.  Is that number even the one they announced?  This is a nit-picky criticism, but Ole Miss sports marketing continues to make some strange choices.  The "blue out" was executed with exactly the success The Cup predicted.  The record crowd - or even the stellar defensive effort - went unmentioned in the official release at Ole Miss Sports.  And here's the really nit-picky part - did you notice that the record number was announced at an odd moment during the game?  We were on offense.  Predictably, when the number was announced many Rebel fans screamed their heads off.  Did the scoreboard people never think that announcing the number during, oh, I don't know, a crucial third and long for the Tide might have been a good idea?  

Here's to the Lollipop Guild.  The cornerbacks for Ole Miss are good.  Not serviceable.  Not better than their height.  Good.

At least we know what we've got.  Plenty of FBS teams in 2009 have shown the predictability and mental stability of a Batman villain.  Have you seen the Georgia Bulldogs?  I'm not sure anyone has seen all the faces of Athens Asylum.  We might not like what we've got (if any of you do, seek help immediately before you do any more harm to yourself or your neighbors), but at least we know what we've got.

Under certain conditions, every remaining game still seems winnable.  Like that qualifying statement?  This is the sort of intentionally but subtly misleading verbiage that I can offer as RCR's chief legal counsel.  If Jevan ends the great regression of 2009, if Kent Austin finds more meaningful ways to put the ball in Dexter McCluster's hands, if the turnovers magically end, or if [insert dream season adjustment here] there is no "almost certain loss" left on the schedule.  Auburn and Arkansas have proved that they know how to lose games just as futilely as we do.  LSU remains a team living by its defense, but almost dying by its tragically flawed offense (golly, that sounds familiar).  State is what it is.  And that alien who threw four touchdowns in relief of Jonathan Crompton against Georgia will, hopefully, be called back to his home planet before November.

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