#15- September 20, 2008: I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it. In addition to the 'Dawgs national spotlight game at Arizona State, the day's schedule will also include Florida playing at Tennessee, LSU at Auburn, and Nick Saban's Tide at Bobby Petrino's Louisville Atlanta Pocatello Pago Pago Arkansas squad in the George Jefferson Moving On Up Bowl, sponsored by U-Haul and Century 21 Real Estate. I'm not going to be out in Arizona, so odds are you'll find me parked in front of the bigscreen with an assortment of tailgate foods and beer, glorious beer. All. Day. Long.
#14- Julio Jones: The Alabama freshman receiver will play often and early in a corp that lost its top two contributors last season and will be in desperate need of a physical presence. Jones is a college-ready guy from a physical standpoint. If he improves mentally throughout the season and can show up consistently in big situations, Alabama's offense will be much better for it.
#13- The LSU defense: The defending national champions lost 6 starters off a unit that was among the nation's best. Replacing Glenn Dorsey will be difficult, but in reality, he played hurt for a large part of the 2007 season so the drop off might be less than expected. Plus Louisiana appears to be full of five-star swamp mutant defensive tackles on a yearly basis, so I'm sure the man-demon who takes Dorsey's place will be more than suitable. Perhaps more difficult will be replacing safety Craig Steltz, linebacker Ali Highsmith and corners Chevis Jackson and Jonathan Zenon. Ask the 2007 Florida Gators how much fun it is to break in talented but young corners in the S.E.C. Because the fastest guy on the field does your team no good when he's running the wrong damned way.
#12- The Kentucky offense: Not only do the Mildcats lose quarterback Andre Woodson, they also have to do without running back/slot receiver/undersized do-it-all pigskin McGyver Rafael Little, tight end Jacob Tamme, and receivers Keenan Burton and Steve Johnson. In other words, basically every individual who so much as sniffed the endzone for Rich Brooks last year will be either playing for someone else this year or serving tasty subs at a Lexington area Jimmy John's sandwich shop ( a noble occupation, indeed). Curtis Pulley will attempt to fill the shoes left by Woodson. Of course, since we're talking about Rich Brooks' offense, those shoes will be filled with lead and will never, ever, under any circumstances leave the pocket, even if Pulley is an alleged "dual threat quarterback".
#11- A.J. Green: The buzz on him is just too hard to ignore. As I said the other day regarding Kris Durham, somebody besides MoMass has to line up at receiver and occassionally catch some footballs. It might as well be this guy. While my impression from the film I've seen is that Tavarres King may be a more polished receiver at this point, Green just strikes me as a guy who'll grow into his potential sooner rather than later. He just seems to go get the ball, no matter where you throw it. We've been missing that in recent years.
I'll be back next week with #'s 10-6 and finally #'s 5-1, AS WE HEAD INTO THE FINAL MONTH BEFORE KICKOFF (Yes, I know the caps lock is on. I simply needed an outlet for my enthusiasm, and tackling the joggers outside my house at 6 a.m. didn't turn out so well last time. So caps lock it is.) Until later . . .