If it's Thursday evening and you're getting ready to root on the Stanford Cardinal against Lane Kiffin's USC Trojans solely (or at least mostly) because Lane Kiffin is Lane Kiffin, then you could probably use a drink. Ditto if you're worried about a letdown this weekend in Athens against the Vols following a dominant win over Vanderbilt. You need a drink? I think I can help you with that.
There's been a lot of discussion over the past few weeks about this whole "Old Man/Grown Man Football" bit. I think there's a little more to it than Sheldon Richardson's poorly timed remarks about the Georgia Bulldogs. If you've watched a lot of college football over the past 5 years or so you've probably noticed that there's an apparent split there. On the one side are schools like Oregon and Arkansas State running 100 plays a game, spreading the field both spacially and temporally. On the other are the Stanfords and Alabamas of the world, lining up in the I-formation and pounding ahead. Like pepsi versus Coke. The Stones versus the Beatles. There are some venues in life when it's one or the other, right?
Maybe, but not on the football field. If you watch Oregon run the football through the course of a season you'll see that they're plenty physical up front. It's entirely possible to be physical and spread the field at the same time. Of all the things I took away from that win over Vanderbilt, among the most exciting to me was the inkling of Georgia doing just that. Mike Bobo's squad went from the hurry up when it was called for. They utilized the pistol formation to allow Aaron Murray a better view of the field and Todd Gurley the chance to get up a head of steam when he hit the line of scrimmage. But despite all those new-fangled changes, the whole thing worked because the guys up front on the offensive line were knocking people around. Vandy was horrendously overmatched up front, and it showed.
In the end there are really only so many ways to line 11 guys up on a football field. In the end, what matters is whether your 11 are bigger, faster, stronger, and tougher (mentally and physically) and better prepared than theirs. If the Georgia squad we saw last week comes out focused and ready to hit this week, I don't think this one will be terribly close. The problem is that Tennessee has some excellent athletes, including some underrated ones on defense, who will be ready to redeem themselves. Everyone seems to think this one is going to be a space-aged, high scoring game. That Bray and Murray will take turns finding their talented receivers.
Ultimately I think this ends up being more on an old fashioned football game. Tyler Bray has looked shaky this season when he's had pressure in his face, most glaringly against Florida. If we can win the battle up front, from the middle out, I like our chances. That's old fashioned football, and it will be necessary to beat this Tennessee team.
Why get cute when you're hoping for old fashioned football. Just have an Old Fashioned, poindexter. By many accounts it's not just a cocktail, it's the original cocktail. It's obscenely simple to make, and no one who has ever tried one didn't like it. I can't prove that, but if you don't like it, you'll be the first Old Fashioned hater I've ever met, and you'll be subject to derision, ridicule, and insinuations that you're not a real American. You've been forewarned.
At any rate, here's how I do this classic cocktail: Start by placing 3/4 of a teaspoon of dark brown sugar in an Old-Fashioned glass. Yes, this drink has its own glass. Don't worry, if you have even a basic set of barware you probably already have some. Google image search it, you'll recognize the vessel. So far as I know I'm the only one who makes these with brown sugar. But I find that it gives a distinctive, molasses flavor. Wet the sugar down with 2-3 drop of bitters (Angostura is best in my opinion). I know, you probably don't have that ingredient on hand. But a bottle costs 7 or 8 bucks and will last you until Derek Dooley grows a mohawk. Plus it's one of those things that just belongs in a well-stocked bar. Swizzle the glass around so that the sugar and bitters create a lining on the glass. Add two ice cubes, then pour in 3 ounces of good bourbon. I know, a lot of folks believe it's sacrilege to muddy up the good bourbon with other stuff. But here I think it's justified. Your great-grandfather did it, so it has to be okay right? Tipsy ancestor worship for the win! Stir it once more for good measure and garnish with some orange peel (or even a quick grate of orange zest if you like).
As in barcraft, the basics of football that win the night haven't changed in 100 years. Here's hoping the Bulldogs are ready to play some old fashioned football come Saturday afternoon. Feel free to use this as your open comment thread for tonight's Thursday night football matchup between Stanford and the Fighting Kiffykins. Until later . . .