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THE ABCS OF HOW TO LOSE 31-3

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A is for arrogance, which the fledgling Meyer staff showed by not attempting to game plan specifically for Alabama and their personnel. No special attention was paid defensively to wonder waterbug Prothro, and no adjustments were made against the vicious rush of Alabama.

B is for Batted Down. Joe Kines basic but brilliant defensive plan included a fact a lot of SEC coordinators still bafflingly refuse to emphasize against UF: Chris Leak is short, and if you stay in his passing lanes, you can jump and bat a few down. Or up, in this case, leading to Alabama's second TD and an ominous 14-0 lead early in the 1st quarter.

C is for Chris Leak, who had the worst game of his life on Saturday. Really, it would take some kind of Job's weekend to equal what happened to him in Bryant-Denny Stadium in three and a half hours: boils, the smiting of his whole family, total ruin, etc... As an accessory, you may as well toss in "Controversy, as in qb," since the square-peg theorists on the message boards have already cranked up the Josh Portis rumors.

D is for Defense, which Alabama has got by the bushel. Nasty, physical, and disciplined, they did whatever they wanted to, which in our case was strangle the Gators on the run and hammer receivers on those dink routes all day. Without any attempt to stretch the field by Florida, the secondary and linebackers could play Rochambeau with Florida's ball carriers all day.

E is for E-fucking-gads!. The worst loss since the stupefying 36-7 home loss to LSU in year one of the Dark Times (2002). The worst loss we've seen in person since the ritual sacrifice of a fleet Spurrier team to Tom Osborne's steroid bastard Huskers in the Fiesta Bowl in 1996. It could have been wayyyyy, wayyyyy worse, too, but Shula shut the O down and told jukey Kenneth Darby to take it easy on the Pop Warner squad playing in orange and blue.

F is for Fuck, which Stranko said about 38 times in the third quarter.

G is for Greed. Shula's hairbrained 4th and 5 toss to Prothro took the spark plug out of the Tide's offensive engine in the 4th quarter of a game long since over. It bent at a 45 degree angle just above the ankle and nearly made us lose our belly full of Bloody Marys all over the tuba section of the UF band. A cruel stroke of luck for a player who played as good a game as a single player has played this year, including Reggie Bush. Shula already regrets this.

H is for Hell. Residents as of Saturday, 3:48 E.S.T: Us.

I is for Ingeniously simple, which Shula kept it against a blitz-happy Florida D. Play any version of NCAA football, and you'll get a canned sample of a stroked-out Lee Corso saying "You gotta relax an aggressive defense with screens and draws." Anyone who watched five minutes of tape and listened to that bit of Indiana Hoosier coaching goodness could have come up with Shula's game plan, but CWCID: Shula's team executed it beautifully: play action, counters, draws, slants, swing passes and screens. It was straight out of coaching 101, and it kept putting the ball in the hands of someone two feet ahead of a falling Florida defender.

J is for Jumping, which Chris Leak kept doing excitedly on the way to the huddle long after the game had been all but decided. Bizarre to see the subdued Leak pogoing up and down...it was kind of like watching if Brian Griese bust out Daunte Culpepper's "git ur roll on" dance move after throwing his requisite awful 2nd pick of the game. Just another wrong thing in an off-kilter, nausea inducing day.

K is for Kickers, which Alabama didn't come close to needing on Saturday, except on kickoffs. With the exception of that lone field goal, hope you enjoyed the rest day, boys.

L is for Leadership, which seemed to evaporate in the crystalline sunshine of a perfect, hot late summer game on Saturday for Florida. The sideline following the first quarter looked like the crowd at the New Orleans convention center during Katrina: infighting, bickering, and people looking like their house just got blown away. Which, in a sense, had just happened.

M is for Meyer. Watch the next week for the cavalcade of haters wantin' to front on his woman, keep him from shining, and generally steal his rims before he gets a chance to floss properly. These people, of course, are foaming at the mouth, eating paint chips off the floor mad: this is a very good coach getting his program together in his first year. Gonna take at least a year to do that, and that's just bizznazz. The only coach to enjoy the kind of success some fans seem to expect of him is Larry Coker, and would you trade up for him? Even if you get a kick out of the idea of having a coach who is the spitting image of Uncle Fester from the Addams Family? We didn't think so.

N is for no gain, the consistent result for Florida's running backs' attempts against the Tide. The running back key party looks to continue as Meyer searches for a back who won't fumble or hit the jumbo bag of Funyuns the instant he leaves the fields.

O is for opera, which the game gave us in spades thanks to Prothro's injury. It's straight Edam-quality cheese, but we choked up at the display Bama fans and players put on for Tyrone Prothro as he lay on the turf, thanks in no small part to our being about seventy-five feet from the scene with an elevated angle on the whole thing reminiscent of a slow crane shot at the end of a movie. Prothro--who at that point could have had a broken neck for all we knew--got his name cheered by a rampaging crowd for two minutes straight, and as he exited it was like watching Black Rudy: every fan on their feet, his name echoing around the walls of the stadium, the teeny red cart sailing off across the lurid green of the field as his twenty-year old teammates pointed at his receding, reclined form holding out the thumbs-up. We really shouldn't have gotten emotional, but that was the transcendent moment of the game for us. You forget that these are just teenagers in hypertrophied bodies, for the most part, save for the moments when all of your fresh cynicism evaporates in the presence of such raw emotion. Proth-ro, Prothro, indeed.

P is for poonannny, which we're sure plenty of 'Bama players enjoyed on Saturday night. The closest the Gators came to getting any on Saturday night probably came from Meyer, who no doubt engaged in a little S and M cattle prod action minus the arousal on the team bus to punish his battered squad.

Q is for Questions: Can Bama run roughshod like this without their lancer, Prothro?
Can they put this kind of effort together against another close-to-the-vest, high-D, low-tech team? Like, say, Tennessee in the third week of October? Can the spread option survive at Florida, or at the very least, survive a year on the thus-far timid legs of Chris Leak? How long before the pitchforks and torches crowd starts mobbing for Meyer? How many decades has it been since Joe Kines hasn't been hoarse? Does he in fact possess a tear-jerking Irish tenor beneath the years of scar tissues on his vocal cords? What in the fuck was Mattistrong doing on defense? Is there a route in the UF playbook that throws deeper than 15 yards?

R is for Retro, with the Bama win punctuating a weekend of ruthlessly cool retro-chic in college football. Penn State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Alabama all resurfaced like Don "Magic" Juan as undefeated paleolithic monsters, each with big quality wins at crucial junctures in their seasons. This could all change next week, of course, but that's fashion for you.

S is for silent, as in all the Notre Dame fans who crowed at the hiring of Charlie Weis instead of Meyer. S could also be for screaming, as in those same fans will be in two weeks when USC shoots the lights out in South Bend and UF pulls a squeaker against Zook 2: The Quickening in LSU.

T is for Ten, as in "Big". The SEC now suddenly resembles the crab-in-a-bucket scenarios normally seen in the Big Ten, where every team grabs the ascending undefeated and pulls it back in the one-loss pile. Georgia will likely lose one, and though Alabama is now demonstrably quality pigskin again, their brutal schedule and an improving Auburn squad now make the Iron Bowl a hellaciously important game. Make note to kiss ass of EDSBS sibling Cuddles Swindle, current Auburn student, to acquire game tix ASAP.

U is for undecided, our verdict on the spread option in the SEC. Give it time, and we'll see. Our sneaking suspicions of Chris Leak's ability to run the offense were given the good feed on Saturday, and will likely only grow larger as the matchup with LSU approaches. But put a Portis in there...well, that's how Heisman candidates end up on the bench, right? And who does Meyer like more, Chris Leak, or the lady with the sweet ass named Victory?

V is for vindication. Brodie Croyle. A masterpiece. Pain and suffering validated. Feel free to go home, put a few more miles on that AAA card we think you have, and take a nice long pee on the picture of Franchione you no doubt have taped to the bottom of your commode. You earned it.

W is for Warren St. John, who showed us the finer points of Tidedom. Hanging out with him was like hanging out with David Hasselhoff in Germany, so taking time out of his day to hang out with someone who was not going to buy him free drinks and invite him back to the RV lot for an all night barbecue orgy was extremely nice of him. Much thanks to a great guy who'll never have to buy a drink in Tuscaloosa again.

X is for X, the overrated L.A. punk band. We couldn't think of anything for this, except to say that the song "White Girl" still grinds our gears the right way.

Y is for yesterday, which is what both teams need to forget--Bama, for all the right reasons, and Florida, for all of the wrong ones. The Tide have the Ryan's Family Steakhouse buffet open in front of them if they focus; Florida's gonna be busy seeing if they can wrangle a free roast beef sandwich out of the Arby's assistant manager if things look even remotely like what they did on Saturday.

Z is for Zero, the number of tds Florida scored in the game. The first time since 1992 that the Gators have been shut out like that. The coach in that game was Steve Spurrier, who also got hacked at Tennessee in his first year in similar fashion. We'll ride out on that ray of sunshiney comparison and remind ourselves to be a Scarlett, not a Melanie, and that tomorrow is another day...