HOMERIC TENDENCIES: SOUTH CAROLINA

Chris Trotman

Appropriate Kanye: None, default to stadium soundtrack.

1. It is a deeply strange thing to look over in the third quarter and say to yourself, "Oh, look. There's Steve Spurrier." That is what I did, sometime in the third, craning my head over and looking for any of the visible signs of distinct OBChood: the gimpy walk, the visor, a play card either being held at his side, or perhaps over his face while he slumped with his hands folded over the chest.

2. He was easy to find: his staff wears red shirts, and he wears white. There is a practical angle to this: Spurrier still calls plays, and wearing a different color makes him visible to the quarterbacks on the field. Other coaches have different approaches for this: wearing a towel on the shoulder, or having a different hat, or some other less flashy, less dramatic method of differentiation. But of course Spurrier wears the different shirt, standing out on stage in sparkling white while the backup singers wear drab garnet. To finish his career as the literal head rooster among roosters is a little too fitting, but it looks better on him as a spirit animal than alligator ever did.

3. Will Muschamp, on the other hand, is all reptile. Like, Reptile from Mortal Kombat.

To show you how operatic Muschamp is, everyone knew he was saying something dramatic to the radio guy, and we were sitting on the edge of the second deck. He doesn't need special clothing to stand out on the sideline. He's the one vibrating at a malign frequency surrounded by a pulsing red rage aura, and when he's really happy live wasps shoot out of his ears.

4. He was mad about penalties, and like most coaches mad over penalties he was half-right. Mike Gillislee totally chopblocked Jadeveon Clowney in the first half, and with reason. Normal blocks weren't working on Clowney. Illegal blocks barely worked on him. Firearms, biological weapons, trained attack animals, and randomly orchestrated acts of God might not have worked on Clowney on Saturday. Only abject panic and handoffs kept Clowney from having more than the one sack he got on Driskel on Saturday.

5. Only LSU's Josh Dworaczyk has blocked Clowney successfully this year, leading us to the only scientific determination regarding an anti-Clowney scheme. You will need consonants. Lots and lots of consonants.

6. Driskel was sacked once by Clowney on Saturday, and three times on the afternoon. Driskel, currently the quarterback of an undefeated team, has been sacked 21 times this season, just one of the strange math of being the quarterback on this team. He had less than a hundred yards passing on Saturday, but had four TDs. He is on a three game streak of sub-century mark games, actually, going back to the LSU game, and over that streak has four passing TDs, zero INTs, and three rushing touchdowns.

7. No one knows what the Florida offense is, precisely. It could be the Harbaugh Stanford offense's brokeass cousin, or the Boise State offense's frazzled and less successful cousin. Whatever it is, it has somehow managed to struggle and yet succeed at the same time. It can't last forever--something Matt Hinton pointed out before we were off the campus on Saturday--but it's also continuing to happen for the moment.

8. This is an academic note. The game itself was South Carolina fumbling, and fumbling, and continuing to fumble away special teams balls, and thus enabling Driskel's bizzarre four TD day. I tried to remember the last time a team disintegrated so completely on special teams and triggered a complete collapse, and the answer was also South Carolina, this time in 2006. That happened like this:

This was far worse, but the point remains. South Carolina should go for every fourth down and never, ever kick the ball against Florida in the Swamp. (It's what Spurrier wants to do anyway.)

9. The rest was Florida's defense flying to the ball and turning Connor Shaw into a nullity. Shaw can't be blamed--honestly, he can't--since he had no time to throw on most downs, and no one to throw it to on the downs where South Carolina managed to protect him. The game started with Louchiez Purifoy blazing off the corner and blindsiding the ball out of his hands, something that happened so fast I had to pop eyes back up at the jumbotron to process it.

10. Shaw was flash-fried a minute into the game. The remaining fifty-nine minutes were the devouring, and everyone got a bite. Look at the stat sheet for evidence: tackles spread all around, and no one player leaping off the stat sheet. When Matt Elam tattooed a receiver in the third, I thought Well, about time he showed up, and then realized how balanced the effort must have been for me to even think that. Matt Elam is a rocket-propelled goblin on every play, and he was on Saturday, too. He just had company, particularly in the form of Dante Fowler, aka the dude whose claw marks are all over Connor Shaw's legs this morning.

11. So there is this moment. I hadn't been back to Gainesville in a while due to work. Work requires you go to interesting places, and for the better part of two years Florida has been interesting in the worst possible way, i.e. "spectacularly bad."

12. This moment involved scalping tickets, walking across Flavet Field, casually telling the guy with the Confederate Flag hanging off his truck to fuck off, and then hauling ass away from that guy to wait in the long line outside Gate 18 before walking up the steps into the South Endzone. This moment involves realizing that despite going to this place for eighteen years of your life off and on, despite poaching tickets and sneaking into what you thought was every corner of the place, despite climbing into the scoreboard itself at the age of 19 just to see what it looked like, that you have ended up someplace you have never been.

13. This place was the first row on the second level, just off center to the west over looking the south endzone. The sky was cloudless: perfect, blank, blue, and occupied only by the plane carrying the CBS overhead camera. With the jumbotron behind us, one could look up and see the plane disappear behind the screen, and then lazily reappear on the other side of the gigantic image it was beaming down to the stadium.

14. Turning around, you had the field, split in shadow and sun by the profile of the stadium. And there is this moment when you're looking at the green rectangle dotted with the white hats of the band, and the student section filing in, the student section that doesn't remember anything: the spot right in front of us where Auburn's Frank Sanders caught a ball in 1994, or the goalposts that South Carolina's coach booted a wormburner of a field goal through in 1966, or the artificial turf Emmitt Smith once prowled down there before it was torn up and replaced with the proper edible grass of Les Miles' dreams.

15. They might remember Tebow, or perhaps Chris Leak, but past that there's only the field, and the band leaving, and then this music being blared over the speakers.

Seriously: they play that at pregame. Fucking Rihanna at a pregame. It should not work, and maybe most of the time it does not. But here, looking at an angle I'd never seen, seeing it all reframed like I was seeing it for the first time...shit, it worked. I don't know why, but it did. The sun was blasting over the corner of the stadium, helmets bobbed in the tunnel, and I was nowhere else but precisely where I was: floating on some concrete suspended above some grass, blasted in sunlight and canned house beats, bathing in the ambient interest waves flying off eighty thousand brains slowly cooked in the heat.

16. The game ends, long after it's actually over, and then you can walk out and look at the darkening sky, still glowing at the edges from a setting sun. Then I realized something else new and utterly obvious: the glowing fringe along the scrub pine and live oaks is orange, transitioning through the spectrum into a pale blue that darkens into the pitch dark of night. For the first time in my life I didn't think the school colors were full of shit, since there it was: orange and blue, illuminated by the sun through whatever filter of swamp gas makes that happen.

17. I took my hat the hat I bought on the way in off to wipe the crust of salt off my forehead. I hadn't really thought about it, and had sort of thrown a twenty dollar bill at someone, grabbed the change, and run in with the bare minimum of protection against the tumor-feeding Florida sun. It was another new thing I hadn't noticed before: a visor.

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