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Q&A on the Tennessee-Florida game with EDSBS's Orson Swindle

As promised, here's the interview with Orson of EDSBS fame.  I believe He's posting posted my responses to his questions over at his site jortly, so head on over there and see how I fared.  Oh, and defend me in the comment thread, as I'll be a sitting duck, sort of like Tubby below.  I won't be able to defend myself due to being away from the computer most of the day and into the evening.

RTT:  How exactly is Urban Meyer's spread option offense different from, say, hypothetically, Air Force's flexbone triple option?  Just curious.  I have this . . . friend . . . who wants to know.

EDSBS:  Tell the friend that Meyer's scrapped the spread 'n shred and installed the flexbone just for this week.  As for you, well, we'll tell you the truth: it's a whole lot different, especially this year.

The run offense relies a lot on option and misdirection at the snap--note that we say "at the snap," since Chris Leak's horror at running the option eliminates all that tricky pitching business. They'll run a qb choice play a bit, or even sometimes line up in an I and straight pound it up the middle. Leak, on the two times he actually keeps the ball each game, is as much of a running threat as Larry Flynt.

Neither team's going to run much out of its base plays because of the defenses, but be wary of reverses and end arounds for Tennessee, since Tennessee's players fell for this in a large way last year.

As for passing...expect a ton of three step drops and rollouts initially. Leak's not doing anything he's not comfortable with this year, and helps to script the first 12 plays of the game. He locks on Dallas Baker, something John Chavis might have noticed just a little.

RTT:  How much did Meyer tweak the offense last year, if at all, to adapt to Leak's style, and will he do more of the same this year, or will he expect Leak to run the spread option the way it was intended?  When the ball is snapped, does Leak really consider himself one of the options to run the ball?

EDSBS:  Hmm..we may have just answered that, but a clarification would help. Leak runs the pass sets just fine, but he has been lost on the run side until this year. Now that they've scaled back his role in the run, you'll only see one called play for him that he actually runs very well: the qb draw. He ran it against UCF and looked shockingly good doing it.

As for other tweaks? Tebow coming in as a change of pace and running right up the middle. The kid's loaded with hardtack and bacon, so don't expect for him to be an easy tackle, even with beastly, hyperspeed blue-chip linebackers roaming around back there.

Meyer now seems content to find his running yards wherever he can get them: end-arounds, draws, screens...whatever works. So expect the kitchen sink.

RTT:  What's the story with your defensive line, a unit that was largely > viewed as one of the nation's best in the preseason? Why only two sacks in the first two games?  How do they compare to Cal's defensive line?

EDSBS:  Umm..hold on, we've got an answer to that...HEY! LOOK!  IT'S PEYTON MANNING! Yeah, right over there! Go get an autograph while we find this answer...

Marcus Thomas--and his belly, "Scoop"--is the only DL to really shine thus far. We're hoping they far exceed Cal in terms of tenacity, which would mean showing up against Tennessee with a pulse. But they've actually been a bit of disappointment thus far against opponents they should have mauled.

RTT: Who should we imagine as the famished boogeyman in our closet for this week who wears an orange and blue jersey and who will ravage our pantries and swipe our sandwiches at every opportunity?

EDSBS:  Reggie Nelson, of course. A player capable of getting into quarterbacks' heads and also returning punts in "Jackass" fashion at this point (read: never, ever calling fair catch,) Nelson always seems to make something very bad happen for the other team. He's also got the "Predator" braid thing going on, which adds style points to his intimidation factor.

Throw in Percy Harvin, too, who can't be clocked in the forty since he's so fast he actually finishes before he begins.

RTT: Conversely, who is currently knocking on the door of your nightmares and wearing an orange jersey?

EDSBS:  Meachem. Nightmares of that jumpball to Sidney Rice, another tall, burly receiver, have us quaking at the thought of the Vols trying to do that to our undersized corners.

RTT: Name the most appalling things you've seen fans from both sides do to another fan in this rivalry.

EDSBS:  For Tennessee fans: a woman who looked like Tanya Tucker after a three month meth bender hocking an oyster-sized loogie onto our very person in 1995.

For Florida fans: A group of very drunk Florida fans screaming at a tubby 13 year old who, along with his tubby father, sat surrounded by orange and blue at the 1997 game. (Let this story be a cautionary tale to those buying any ol' ticket into the stadium Saturday. You never know where you'll end up.)

It began innocently enough; some jibing here, some joking there. Peyton Manning tosses the critical pick to Tony George, though, and it degrades quickly.

First, Tubby begins standing up and turning around to the section whenever Tennessee so much as makes a tackle, gesturing like a professional wrestler instants away from getting a folding chair over the head. Father, soaking too deeply in the misery of the game, presumably is helpless to intervene.

Florida fans then begin a solid hour of "SIT DOWN TUBBY!" and "GO BUY YOUR FIFTH PLATE OF NACHOS." The kid shows significant pluck by not only NOT crying and sitting down, but by aping it up worse than before. As some point in the fourth quarter, comments turn to incisive commentary on this kid's anatomy, heritage, and chances of ever having sex outside the limits of a barnyard. At this point, with the Vols hopelessly out of the game, Tubby begins to weep, and in our memory, we think we remember sporadic applause at this even.  

You might fault Florida fans for this, and you should.  But the dad's the real goat in the story, a man so crucified on the pain of his team--which he did not play for, trust us--losing to Florida that he allowed his son to get in a taunting match with a section full of the smartassingest fans in the SEC.

RTT: Name Florida's principal weaknesses, and how Tennessee may exploit them.

EDSBS:  The line. We recommend blitzing, but stunts may be enough. They're untested and should whiff on a few things they haven't seen.

RTT: Name Tennessee's principal weaknesses, and how Florida may exploit them.

EDSBS:  The run defense off misdirection and fakes, evidently.  Florida doesn't need to build any of this in since it's already all there. Wow. We actually hadn't really believed in this as an advantage until we typed it.

RTT: Describe in detail your worst jort-induced chafing incident.

EDSBS:  Chafing? Please. We're professionals. These callouses are decades deep now.

RTT: Your bold prediction, which you may not weasel out of under pain of horrendous insult, is:

EDSBS:  34-24, Good guys. (Us.) If we fry Ainge on a couple of plays and keep Leak in one piece, there's hope. That score went up from an initial guess of 23-19 or something thereabouts thanks to the injury to Inky Johnson, since we've got five solid wideouts now.

Bonne chance!


Thanks, Orson.

Vol fans, leave your comments for Orson below, as I'm sure he'll be checking in.  And head over to EDSBS to read my responses to Orson's questions and to defend me in the comment thread.  It's likely to be similar to Tubby's experience.