The New England Patriots have won three out of the last four Super Bowls by continually telling themselves that the rest of the football world wants to steal their car and sleep with their girl. And their mom. And take their Rolexes. Victory doesn't seem to motivate them nearly as much as the desire to refute all the vile things they think opponents think about them.
This psychology bleeds down straight from the wily, slightly paranoid mind of the coach himself. Belichick--the gold standard for whatever a coach is supposed to be now in every facet of the game save fashion, where he looks like your unemployed uncle on disability--keeps his people motivated one way or another, and contrary to the sunny predictions of positive reinforcement, his Patriots seem to thrive on the absurd idea that they're playing every game as pissed-off underdogs.
This goes a long way towards explaining why the Florida Gators, after winning by 21 points over a Kentucky team that piled up all but 7 of its 28 points in garbage time against Gator backups, are in for a hellacious week of practice leading up to the Alabama game on Saturday. Meyer will piledrive the backups for playing flag football against Wildcats, and probably reserve special ire for the special teams, who allowed a nasty blocked punt on their first series.
But smiles! Don't forget the smiles, people! Chris Leak actually ran the ball with confidence on Saturday, something which seemed to change everything about how this offense functions. He also went bonkers in the second quarter, finishing at 25-32, 319 and 4 tds. Chad Jackson may be the number one receiver, but a steady number two emerged in grand fashion as Jemalle Cornelius had the game of his career with 8 receptions for 138 yards. They scored 35 points in a single quarter--something reminiscent of the (gasp!) halcyon days of the Spurrier era. The defensive starters forced Andre Woodson into throwing three picks and made Kentucky look like what it is: the sick old man of the conference. (Vandy' s 4-0, Rich Brooks. Start house-hunting in Boca right now.)
Chris Leak: striking a familar pose?
The backups gagged in the second half, but they were up by 42 points and seeing their first significant action of the season. That's how you get depth--give 'em playing time in relatively consequence-free situations. Like, say, being up by 42 points. Most Gator fans, when asked to define victory, would probably agree with former Strategic Air Commander Curtis LeMay's justification for requesting more nuclear weapons funding from Congress in the 1950s. One Senator remarked that we had enough weapons to reduce the Soviet Union to cinders, so why did we need more nukes? LeMay's answer: "I want to see the cinders dance."
Pretty much sums up the Gator Nation's attitude toward winning. Do it large, and do it at the expense of logic if needs be. Meyer did the right thing by playing the backups--dancing cinders be damned.