Orson, brimming with hatred of all things orange this week, was either kind or enraged enough to answer a few questions in anticipation of this Saturday's battle of strengths against weaknesses in the Swamp. Keep your eye on EDSBS.com, as I'll be alone and up to my nostrils in Gators over there sometime this morning.
JOEL: Florida scores 49 points in the first half against Troy and only 10 in the second. What happened?ORSON: First, we'd like all of you bastards to die, die, die. (Contractually obligated hate sponsored by Bryan Hot Dogs: The Flavor of the South, except for that other team over there. They eat sausage made of innocent babies and cute puppies.)
Two fumbles and the malaise of boredom, perhaps? Our first instinct was to run screaming into our mental panic room when we thought about what happened in the third quarter, but in retrospect, it doesn't seem quite as bad as we thought. Troy runs a system taken from the Hal Mumme system of half-step drops and quick passes, Omar Haugabroook is a superb quarterback, and Troy's known for putting a fright into superior teams. So in retrospect...nah, not horrid. Bad, yes; but not horrid.
JOEL: So I know you have a Cuban boatload of receivers just waiting for their opportunity to get onto the field, but doesn't the loss of Andre Caldwell to a sprained MCL hurt? A lot? And with the nickname Bubba, shouldn't he really have been a Volunteer anyway?ORSON: Throw a "ray" or "jimmy" in there, and we're talking obligatory Vol, sure. A single "bubba" alone will not do it. (Full confession: our family at one time had a Bubba, a Butch, and two guys named Buck.) It does hurt: Caldwell's a superb blocker, especially for someone his size, and a speedster with hands, a rarity in any market. We're leveraged nicely in the wideout market, though, so it's not really a concern, especially with the way Riley Cooper and Louis Murphy have been pressing the depth chart as of late. It's ferocious Darwinian competition over in that area of the roster right now.
JOEL: There's been a lot of talk about Florida devouring Twinkies for their first two games while Tennessee had to hunt down and kill its own gamey meat. We'll find out Saturday which team will benefit the most from its nutritional tendencies, but what's your general philosophy on the question? And what's your best guess as to which will pay off this weekend?
ORSON: If Tennessee had suffered injuries during those two tough games, we'd say Florida. Florida's got the shinier roster in terms of talent, but the experience of getting into rhythm against fast, mean competition like Cal and USM brings Tennessee nigh-even in terms of pre-game mindset. It pays off most in games like this early in the season, but will show in late season games in terms of fatigue, meaning we think Tennessee will likely be at its weakest late in the season against Kentucky and Vandy.
On the whole? It's the way to schedule for a team like Tennessee, whose schedule is front-loaded with challenging games. For Florida, it would make the late-season crux of Georgia and Florida State even more daunting than usual. And for USC, it's called "routine."
JOEL: It seems that the world's been waiting two years for this game to see how Urban Meyer's offense with Urban Meyer's players fares against SEC competition. But is there a marked difference between the offense this year under Tebow and last year under Leak, and if so, what is it?
ORSON: The way the offense forces the linebackers to play explains 90 percent of the effect: they must stay in to defend the quarterback keeper, the qb choice, the inside trap, the speed option...all are dependent on having a quarterback who is willing and able to bang around a bit. This frees up the skinny post on play-action, crossing routes, shallower drag routes, and all those other routes Alex Smith rode to a first round draft pick in 2005. Linebackers play yo-yo against a well-run spread option, and against cheesy compeitition thus far, that's what they've been doing.
JOEL: What is the defining moment in the formation of your hatred of the Volunteers? You can also just hit the milestones if it was more of a journey.
ORSON: Being born and raised for ten years in Tennessee was more than enough all by itself.
ORSON: Baby Rhino. He'll have the head of steam on most plays. Though we must complement the youngster for making a spectacular rodeo tackle on second-rate competition. Remember that Laron Landry took a ride on Tebow for about eight yards last year. He plays bigger than he is, and he's already ginormous.
ORSON: This game may kill both of us: 45-42, Florida. We're picking them for the first time in forever, ensuring that Florida will likely lose 800-3, but the defense and offense have both been sandbagging thus far. You'll see some new gadgets on both sides of the ball, especially defensively. That said, Ainge is in fine form already, and Tennessee can throw for days on our secondary and run with consistency on an inexperienced set of defensive tackles. We'll flip for a shootout going to the home team (not that this has mattered in the series at all over the past decade, but in the field of the unknown, we'll grasp at straws all day, sir.)
Oh, and did we mention that we'd like all of you bastards to die? (Contractually obligated hate sponsored by Yella Wood. It's what the South is made of!)
JOEL: We hate you, too, Orson. Thanks for visiting. Now get outta here.