It's pretty unusual for me to be offering you a gameday cocktail on the last day of the work week. What can I say? I was in Alabama all day, and the only computer I could find had no internet access and required a set of jumper cables? I was busy watching Auburn do its impersonation of Ricky Martin's music career? No, I was in Eritrea helping Madonna pick out an orphan. Yeah, that's it.
Though you'll be comforted to know that Cocktail Thursday's only been delayed to Friday three times before, with an ensuing record of 2-1. Both of those Bulldog victories were against Ole Miss. The loss was to Florida in 2006, and even in that one we played the soon-to-be national champions closer than we probably should have. So Cocktail Friday has a pretty decent record.
I've always tried to be honest and upfront with ya'll about my thoughts on Bulldog football. I'm not going to stop now, so I have to warn you, I am seriously worried about this one. Probably more worried than I am about the Cocktail Party next week. The reason? Matchups. Man on man football.
This LSU team will be the biggest and most experienced that we've seen up front. As I told you after the Alabama game, this season has reminded me of what I've known about football since my peewee league days: the team with the best lineplay wins most of the time. LSU has a decided advantage on the offensive and defensive lines. That makes me nervous.
However, there is some reason for hope. LSU's defensive line in particular took a beating against South Carolina. Ricky Jean-Francois didn't travel. Drake Nevis and Tyson Jackson each spent some time on the turf. It was exactly the type of physical pounding late into the fourth quarter that we should have hoped for. That can't hurt.
Also, while LSU's offensive front is huge, they're not exceptionally quick, at least not to my admittedly untrained eye. If we can keep the linebackers free and they can make tackles, I like our chances against the Bayou Bengal running attack. I also like the thought of Rennie Curran unexpectedly popping up in Jarrett Lee/Andrew Hatch's face on 3rd and long.
I also am more and more impressed with our young offensive front. I'm not sure anybody else in the country is starting 2 sophomores and 3 freshmen (including 2 true freshmen) on the O-line. It's not ideal, but it's what we've got. They've only given up 8 sacks in 7 games, which is damned near remarkable. They helped us run for 230 yards against a stouter than usual Vandy defense.
That young offensive line is going to be the key to this thing. I know, I sound like a broken record. I've said that since the beginning of the season. But this time I really mean it. Without giving too much away from the upcoming 5 Things preview, I think I can say with certainty that we will probably have a good idea of which way this one is going to go by halftime. If our young offensive line is able to give Stafford time to work on the LSU secondary, I think we'll be in excellent shape. If they can give Knowshon a seam and keep our thinning defense off the field early, we'll be in good shape.
More and more it's become clear to me that the bellcow of that front five is Clint Boling. He's solid in pass protection and excellent reaching out on the toss sweep. We're going to need him holding things down on the edge if we're going to get anything going on the road against Les Miles' Tigers.
While you shouldn't enjoy one on the road, I'd recommend you tailgate with a cocktail called "The Boling Ball". Here's the recipe:
3 oz. Bacardi 151 or other 151 proof rum
1 oz. cherry brandy
1 oz. fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Yes, it will in fact knock you over like a bowling (or boling) pin, hence the name. Yes, if you drink three of them you may not make it to halftime. Yes, it geauxs with corndogs.* (HT: Richard Pittman of And The Valley Shook)
I'll be back tomorrow morning with the 5 Things you'll see during the LSU game. Unitl then, easy on the Boling Balls, and . . .
*And like Richard Pittman I do find the LSU/corndog nexus a bit fuzzy. In my experience LSU fans usually smell like bourbon, often smell like andouille, and when on Bourbon Street smell like urine (like most everything else). But I've never run into one who smelled like corndogs.