1. We're having a crisis of sorts. Damn you, Phil Steele--you have to point out the ugly facts of the situation rather than letting us dwell in our fantasy world of long-held grudges, stereotypes, and facile prejudices against teams, their coaches, and their fanbases.
Reading through the Bible last night, we came to the Book of Illinois, and...sigh. They're still gonna suck, especially across the front of the defensive line and in the still-patchy secondary. (Though corner Vontae Davis will be just fine on his lonesome.) But they won't suck as much as they did the year before, meaning that [NAME REDACTED] won't be bullshitting (!) for once when he says that he sees improvement.
And offensively, Illinois's got a fine rushing attack, mostly because they have two tailbacks in the backfield at all times: Rashard Mendenhall (definitely no relation to Bronco), and alleged quarterback Juice Williams, who with a 39 percent completion rate scraped the sludgy bottom of the rankings last year in that department.
So with a revamped, fancified Wing-T on offense, a defense that's getting "better and better!," and a schedule loaded with some gimme pastry in the form of Western Illinois, Ball State, a rebuilding Minnesota, a reeling Indiana...oh, God help us. They might win five or even get bowl eligible with one of those patented [NAME REDACTED] wins that keeps him employed for another year. That pen stabbed into the top of our hand? It'll be fine with a little Bactine and a clean bandage.
We'd bet a kidney that they do some whacked shit like beating Ohio State but losing to Northwestern.
2. We love China. And we think the NFL will love China, too, if for no other reason than giving the Minnesota Vikings a chance to take a fuckboat down the Yangtze. Take McKinnie and Smoot with the points over the entire crew of Han's Chungking Pleasure Baths.
3. Reader Lance writes in to say that FSU's 2008 recruiting class has a distinctly English flair. Among their early recruits: Two Nigels (Bradham and Carr,) a Terrance, an Avis, Vincent, Nick, Travis and finally a British. Not as in a person from England referred to incorrectly, but a guy named British Footman. We hear his style of play is both haughty yet servile all at the same time.
4. Add Guy Morriss to the endangered coaches list, according to this article from the Dallas News. How miserable are the scorched plains of Waco, Texas for football? Morriss had a winning season at Kentucky of all places, as barren a football landscape as one could imagine--and yet Baylor didn't even sniff hope in most of their games last season, losing by huge margins to good and bad teams alike.
5. Add a new badass to our hall of cinematic badasses: learning-disabled Gang-Du from the Korean monster flick The Host. We could talk about what a subtle, witty parable the whole thing is, with the director using the monster as a vehicle through which North Korean/South Korean relations are examined and Korean society as a whole are examined and satirized....
Or we could say that Gang-Du rolls through the film like some kind of indestructible supertard. He's impervious to sedatives and anaesthetics. He fights the monster with bits of metal and concrete he yanks from the street. He takes a direct hit from the beast and lives. He withstands brain surgery with no local whatsoever. Most impressively, he walks unaffected through the deployment of "Agent Yellow," a super-evil death agent dropped on the monster in huge yellow clouds. Smart ain't nothing when you laugh at nerve gas and breathe deep. Rock on, you supertard, you.
6. There's irresponsible but intriguing scuttlebutt percolating around some impending nastiness at Pitt. That's about all we're willing to type at the moment in order to preserve the shred of reliability we're holding on to here at EDSBS. More speculative fun, this time from an FSU fan we ran into this weekend: Jeff Bowden's amazing survival streak at FSU may be credited not to Bobby Bowden, but to Ann Bowden, who this fan alleged was the prime mover and defender of Jeffy the Unready via Bobby. It's an absurd, baseless rumor; yet in the absence of other explanations for keeping an incompetent person on staff for five years, we have to embrace the absurd.
7. Leon Kneefinger, young Gator defensive tackle from Poke Barel High in Nitro, West Virginia, we love you. We couldn't be more proud of your 4.0 GPA, your willingness to bike over to a classmate's and assist him with homework, gaining +1 on your stamina and +2 on your popularity. We can't state the emotions we felt when you had 3 TFL, one sack, and seven tackles overall against Vandy, when you finally broke into the starting lineup and showed all the world your potential. Leon...you're like the son we've never had.
(NCAA 2008: it's not just a game, it's a family simulation more satisfying than reality! Fathers take note.)
8. Teams we're thinking about this week: the Arizonas (U and State,) who we'll look at in a piece we're calling "The Dennis Erickson Show." Fresno State, who hasn't won shit since joining the WAC. Washington State, who grabbed our attention by having a quarterback named "Brink" who might also be fairly good (WSU was one of several teams to come close to nipping USC last year.) Missouri and the inevitable disappointment they'll dole out, being a Gary Pinkel team with a habit of running up 5-0 records and then tanking in-conference games. Most intriguingly: Nebraska, a tremendously balanced team getting less than their share of publicity despite having Sam Keller coming into the starting lineup. USC/Nebraska will have to be on the ol' wristwatch television during the UT/UF hatefest on September 15th.
9. We've said it before. We repeat: Tennessee hasn't had a dominant run game since they hired Jimmy Ray Stephens as offensive line coach. (Clarification: we failed to note Steven's firing in 2006 here. Still true, but not attributable to Stevens in '06.) Counting on them to just invent one now seems like one of the great follies of the preseason preview magazines. They've become a pass-first team, and smart teams have recognized this and punished the Vols for it.
10. Reading this week: Jeff Galloway's New Marathon, which has nothing in it regarding when it's appropriate to just let loose and fart like a madman. We say exercise discretion on the flats and downhills, but on uphills? That's extra thrust you can't spare, Phidippides. Go ahead and fire away, passersby and witnesses be damned, we say.