Good riddance, Memphis. We beat you by 31, and we weren't happy about it, except for the fact that we won't be playing you again for several years. And haters from Arkansas, Memphis, MSU, and wherever else: we didn't play like a top 10 team today. We know that. But when the polls come out this week, guess what? We'll be in the top 10. You won't. I'm convinced that we have a team that can play at a top 10, even top 5 level, but that obviously didn't happen this week. So what went wrong? What went right? Click that jump button, playa...
Second: Selling beer is a bad idea at Ole Miss games. Don't crucify me, because it's freaking true. Did I have a couple before the game? Absolutely. Did I have a couple back in Oxford later tonight? Absolutely. But for the 21 year-old kids in the section around us, buying beer at a football game was such a damn novelty that the spectacle that is Ole Miss football was completely ignored, and the sport of the day devolved into a marathon relay of beer runs. The fishing shirt-clad fellow next to us had his girlfriend run her pretty self down into the tunnel to fetch beer roughly 42 times during the game. I was both annoyed, and a little bit jealous. A beer-fetcher like that is one to hold on to, friends.
But seriously, there's no need for beer. Let me know if you're having trouble getting alcohol into the stadium, and I'll let you in on a little trade secret: carry half of your booze in your girl's purse, and the other half in your bloodstream. There, that wasn't so hard now, was it?
A sociological side-note, the Memphis fan demographic is experiencing a dramatic shift. Fewer and fewer faded jerseys, jean shorts, mullets and the like. More and more gelled/dyed hair, man-capris, visors, with a few sets of faux-rich frat getups mixed in. It's as if they finally realized that they were trashy, but couldn't decide whether to imitate USM or Ole Miss as a remedy. Either way, you all still look ridiculous.
As for the football game: well then, where do we start?
Jevan Snead will be fine, I've decided. Last year, he needed some time to shake off the rust, had a shaky start against Memphis, a burst of brilliance against Wake, then slowly climbed out of mediocrity until hitting his stride late in the season. Obviously he needs to keep things simple, to worry about just getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers, and work hard to get himself mentally right. Call Nutt a QB killer if you want, but he's a coach first, not a QB psychologist. Snead has the potential; he's already displayed it against major opponents last year. He's just got to get his head stable. He'll be alright, but still, it's safe to say that we're all glad that Bama isn't next week.
Running backs were fine. Bolden looked like he wasn't even trying. Enrique lit a fire under himself. Andy Hartmann made some fantastic blocks. Moving on...
The receivers were pretty underutilized today. Most of the problem was the vanilla playcalling, coupled with Jevan finding his security blankets in Hodge and McCluster when he wasn't hitting the throws like he wanted. Glad to see that Jesse Grandy will have a chance as the main motion guy in the Wild Rebel. I think that's his strong suit, and his best chance to make plays without taking many hard hits. Shay Hodge is still amazing. If I were an offensive coordinator scheming against Memphis, I'd have thrown it up to Hodge a lot more than we did.
The line... I can't decide what to think. Snead was sacked only once by a Memphis D that wanted to hit him pretty badly, and that one sack was a result of him holding onto the ball for way too long. Bradley Sowell might be plenty serviceable after a few more games. I don't think it's time to do anything drastic until he starts totally blowing blocks. Speaking of missing blocks, John Jerry was sub-par today. Having never played offensive line, I can't imagine the cohesion necessary to have a solid pass-blocking line. This line will have to gel quickly, but I think we'll be alright, especially when we put Rishaw Johnson back in his starting slot. Having Brandon Green, AJ Hawkins, Bobby Massie, and others as subs makes me feel pretty good. We need to stay injury free, but those guys will all be decent reserves this year.
The defensive line... We saw their potential, but it was a little frustrating when it seemed like they were overeager to fly into the backfield for a sack, only to see the running back slicing through the rest of the defense behind them. A little discipline from the D line goes a long way against a spread team. Jerrell Powe looks possessed; he's going to be awesome. Lockett showed that the attention he got last year in Hardy's absence was totally merited. He did overpursue a few times, but he made it obvious that he'll be tough to block 1-on-1 all year. Marcus Tillman was more dynamic than I've ever seen him. He had 7 tackles and showed speed in backside pursuit of the Memphis running backs a couple of times. Lamark Armour played, and wasn't bad at all. Good to know that we have four tackles we can use, and a fifth when Justin Smith returns.
I wanted to see more big plays out of the linebackers, but I guess this wasn't the offense to do it against. DT Shackleford is headed towards a great career. He's instinctive and he can run and hit really well. He will continue to steal time from Cornell, especially if the arm tackles continue from the starters. Allen Walker had a few good plays in run support. Since he was recruited as a safety, I keep wanting him to make plays in the passing game like Ashlee Palmer did, but I haven't seen it yet. Patrick Trahan didn't look like an elite linebacker today. Too early to tell for sure, but for now, we have three solid SEC starters, at least two good SEC backups, but no stars at linebacker.
The defensive backs played with swagger. This was a great performance, and the play of Jeremy McGee and Marcus Temple was really surprising. Johnny Brown led the team in tackles with 15, though that's probably a bad thing. It's encouraging that the secondary was good without any huge plays from Kendrick Lewis. Cassius Vaughn had a stellar play against Singleton where he got a good read on the ball, made a nice jump, and kept his hands in Singleton's grill until the pass fell to the ground. A solid, solid play against a huge guy like him. Fon Ingram listened to Coach Kennedy (who was probably yelling at someone, somewhere), and Justified His Existence. A great (if lucky) read, and a fluid catch and return.
OK, Spirit readers, you got us. Andrew Ritter is really good. He kicked the crap out of it when he was supposed to, kicked it high for the coverage team when he was supposed to. He's good. There, we said it.
The officiating, which I usually gripe about, was consistent and fair. There was that one laughable pass interference call on a play where the ball had already hit the ground, and the Memphis receiver initiated the contact. That was pretty terrible. Other than that, the refs did a good job of not letting the game devolve into whatever limp-wristed, no-contact slap-fight that Georgia was forced to comply with at T. Boone Pickens stadium. Yes, Big XII, if we aren't allowed to hit you hard, you'll probably win. Congrats.
One last thing before I turn in for the night: Memphis fans, you are pathetic. After the Tigers scored to make it 24-14, a good section of your crowd near the north endzone started an "overrated" cheer... While down by ten, late in the game, knowing full well that you were going to lose. That's weak shit, Memphis fans. You're bitter, obnoxious, irrelevant, and small. By claiming that a team is overrated when they're beating you by ten in your own shitty stadium, when this is the most important game of the year to you, what are you saying about yourselves? Anyways, thanks for the win; I guess we'll play another soft game, then go on to some nationally relevant college football. Have fun doing whatever it is you do between now and basketball season.
That's all for tonight. Let me know what you think (unless you're an Arkansas fan), and don't miss the Roundtable tomorrow.
Goodnight, and Hotty Toddy.