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The Friday Tailgate. Holding It Together. Barely.

The tailgate is going to be a little shorter today, as I am finishing this up before hopping in the car about an hour earlier than usual for my day job. No 5 Things, though I will try to post it tomorrow in the Gameday Open Comment Thread.

Speaking of which, you folks have really been bringing it to the comment threads here lately. I'm extremely impressed. But like a college football coach, I can always find room for improvement. So here goes. I need your musical selections for the tailgate. The ones I've been getting have been good, even great. I ran this week's winner by Coach Searels, and he liked its intensity, which is saying something. But a week will come when everybody thinks that somebody else submitted something. However in the reality the only submission will be from vineyarddawg, who jokingly submits the Carpenters mix he uploaded to Youtube, and we'll be pregaming to "Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun". The tragedy of the commons, people. It's real.

Kind of like Mississippi State. For about 48 minutes last night the Bizarro Bulldogs were actually in the game against Auburn, a sleeper pick by some in the SEC West. Sure there were some turnover hijinx. I halfway expected the fadeout music going to halftime to be Dave Matthews Band playing Yakkety Sax. The Fighting Mullens stormed back late, but they just did not have the horses. Mullen is doing a good job in Starkville. Chris Relf looks like the quarterback that he needs in that offense and the guy has a load of talent. But the overall depth, especially along the line of scrimmage, just is not there yet. That being said, Missy State is not going to be an easy out for anyone this year (including us), which is really should be the first step in Mullen's plan. The second should be pulling for Houston Nutt to drop some more inexplicable games like last week's Jacksonville State debacle, and the third should be winning the Egg Bowl back-to-back. If he can do those things he may get things rolling yet.

Also, who besides me really wants MSU to be penalized generously for their cowbell fetish at some point this season? As I've said in the past, taking away their cowbells is like taking away the fat kid's popsicle. It's just mean. But I would love to see (and hear) the reaction of Bizarro 'Dawg fans after a couple of 15 yarders. Stop ringing? Ring even louder? Throw them at Penn Wagers like so much agrarian shrapnel? Inquiring minds want to know.

As for Auburn, well, they looked a lot like I figured they would. Copious doses of Cam Newton delivered in rapid fire bursts. When it worked, it worked in a hurry. Often it didn't, and the Auburn defense found itself back out on the field in a hurry. Against a team that won't wear down quite like MSU, that could be a recipe for disaster.  Auburn's starters, especially along the lines, may be as good as anybody in the conference, and the country. But the impression I got was that Auburn's weakness can be revealed if you can get past that starting 22. While I find the occasional suggestion to play the Aubbies early interesting, this is one year in which I'll be glad to get them after the schedule has tenderized them a little.

Of course we have our own game to worry about. A.J.'s suspension was one thing. But Darius Dawgberry and I both half-jokingly forecast yesterday that the NCAA would add insult to injury by clearing some of the South Carolina players who had been missing just in time for kickoff.

Yeah. When it rains, it pours. I have a deep sense of foreboding about this game. I can't shake the feeling that A.J.'s situation may have been an unnecessary distraction this week. I also can't shake the feeling that I could be completely wrong about this one. Position by position, there aren't a lot of spots on the field at which I would rather have the Gamecocks' starter than our own. But I'm still worried about general dysfunction on the defense, or on our offensive line. It is after all a team game. The fact that Wes Saunders is definitely out makes me feel better about our chances, but Alshon Jeffery worries me sick. Seriously, if you've seen the sophomore receiver play, you know that Lane Kiffin could not have possibly been more wrong in saying that he would wind up pumping gas some day. Assuming the Laner actually said that while recruiting young Alshon, which he denies. And when has he ever given us reason to suspect his integrity?

I also suspect the integrity of the South Carolina linebacking corps without Shaq Wilson in the lineup. The Gamecock defense gave up over 400 yards to Southern Miss, and while I don't know that we'll put up those kind of numbers, Wilson was a leader on that defense and a great tackler inside. I wish him a speedy recovery, but his absence could be a big help.

To sum it up, despite my trepidation, I really am excited about tomorrow. I'm truly busting at the seams and barely containing my excitement. I'm jacked up to see some SEC football, and jacked up about this week's musical selection, courtesy of wwcmrd? So jacked up that I may do some power cleans before court. In fact let's handle that right now. I'm on it:

 Southern rock-influenced Christian metalcore: it's what's for lunch here at the Friday Tailgate. I'll see y'all tomorrow in the Gameday Thread. Until then . . .


Go 'Dawgs!!!