Khus the Red
Without living in the Fatherland with the local pay-per-view and without a travel agent who could fathom the concept of intentionally traveling to Waco, I was left in audio-only mode for the Baylor game, in that strange realm where everything up-comes and everything caroms off everything else. There is little then this week I can offer by way of direct observations on how the Big Red belittled the Bears, but it’s not hard to see if you just concentrate enough. Rose, Fiala and Matt only gave us part of the story of what happened on the field. Fortunately, the mind’s eye easily fills in the blanks. If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then presumably it takes one thousand words to create a picture. The average person speaks at a rate of 125 words per minute. Since the game lasted 3 hours and 16 minutes, the math gives us 24,500 words. That’s only 24 ½ pictures. Fortunately, the average person thinks at a rate of about 650 words per minute, which means that our imagination gives us a much truer picture of what transpired on the field last Saturday night. For the moment, we will disregard the fact that video images must be displayed at a minimum of 30 frames per second or a person becomes motion sick. If 30 FPS is applied to our mind’s-eye theater, the figure drifts somewhere into the negatives and our otherwise vivid imaginations wink out of existence, meaning our minds are empty black holes. This is almost never true in humans, unless you are “reality” television wonk Mark Burnett, “author” L. Ron Hubbard or “artist” Ashlee Simpson, who incidentally once managed to think at a rate of 24 ½ words. Per hour. Fortunately, we are not them, and our internal film rooms gave us a much clearer series of scenes for us to watch the Red Menace of the North deliver a punishing lesson in ground-game brutality to the upstarts of the South. Ah, what’s old is new again.
The game began customarily enough in Floyd Casey Stadium, with about a third of the half-full bleachers occupied by the visitors’ fans and the other half of the seats filled with homeless winos shipped in to give the appearance of local interest for the television audience. Things quickly became distressing when before the coin toss, a crater opened at midfield, the choking smell of sulfur began to drift toward the crowd and in a sooty black cloud, head referee Steve Usechek ascended into the world of mortals.
The much-hyped Baylor confidence was apparent on their first drive as they moved the ball into the Red zone far too effectively. Grix had a nice tip-drill INT, but just as Steve Usechek was adjusting his hat between the horns protruding from his skull, a Blackshirt had gotten into the backfield, said hello to Baylor QB Shawn Bell, asked him how classes were going, offered him a juice box left over from the pregame meal, played most of a game of Scrabble, and wished him well the rest of the game and shook Bell’s hand. The last was costly, because it drew a late-hit flag, negating Grix’s pinch. Moments later, Bell ran into the end zone, yelling “Nihilartikel is SO a word!” and was not flagged for excessive celebration, gridiron or linguistic.
This game showed us why you put kickers on scholarship. Congdon had a great outing for a freshman playing his first conference road game. No, it wasn’t a bowl game and field goals in the 20s are expected makes, but a career-best distance shot of 41 yards and 3-for-3 on the day comes in quite handy when the margin of victory is nine points. Not too shabby, young mister Jordan. Perhaps in a few years you’ll be introduced to a little statue named Groza.
ZT and the offense had another efficient day, but to take the North more of those 3s will need to be 7s. Still, a decent 56% completion rate is topped by more pleasant number: zero, as in number of interceptions thrown. ZT continues to play heady and gutsy. He managed this against an athletic defense that at times puts eight men on the line in order to give a QB much to worry about. To get a score to begin the second half allowed Callahan the cushion to execute the execution of the clock and grind, baby, grind this game away. At the moment ZT found Todd Peterson doing an Oh-please-see-me-sometime-this-century calisthenics routine in the back of the end zone, the Baylor mascot fell writhing and spasmodically flailing to the ground, eventually growing still as smoke seeped out of the costume because the person inside had spontaneously combusted, along with any Bear hopes of gaining the second-half momentum.
The Blackshirts continue to play bloody well, despite becoming alarmingly shorthanded. However, missed tackles are still a concern. Bullocks going for the strip that sprung the Baylor WR downfield would have been brilliant had it worked, but all it caused was Steve Usechek’s bifurcated tail to twitch with glee. I was not surprised in the peculiar fumble-recovery-touchdown. It was clear during the referee séance that Steve Usechek reached for his rulebook, which was bound in human flesh, turned to the book of Second Revelation, chapter 13 verse 666, which plainly stated “And lo, to smite the righteous it shall be called Simultaneous Recovery.” And yet, the Red controlled the clock and the rest of the game, marching down the field for an insurance FG while Steve Usechek marched to the sidelines in frustration, walked over to a basket of kittens, and one by one, placed them on the ground and stomped on them.
One of the most pleasant sights of the night was watching the defensive line generating pressure while often only rushing three or four and dropping the rest into coverage. This caused confusion for Bell and forced at least one bad INT toss, which Bowman was happy to snag. This defensive line is strong enough to ride into the rest of conference play, and this week will get ‘Damo Suh back. But it won’t be a waltz to the conference title game. The D-line’s next job is to contain Brad Smith.
Gary Pinkel. The man. The myth. The…myth. Many do not expect him to be coaching in Columbia next year, unless you mean the Central American country. This makes him dangerous with a shot at the North yet; when he calls a game as if he has nothing to lose, Mizzou often doesn’t. However, Pinkel has a way of making Tigers look like deer caught in the headlights. An early kickoff tends to help a road team because it doesn’t allow for the day-long tedium and clock-watching, but it may not keep the Mizzou fans any less hostile, since for many of them waking up drunk and angry at life in general is a daily routine. The MU D surrenders yards on the ground, which means we can expect Callahan to…well, actually we have no idea what to expect. And neither does Pinkel.
Sharpen the gameday battleaxe and get ready to swing in earnest, Red friends. The battle to control the North begins this Saturday.
Words fly up, thoughts remain below; words without SMTP never to cyberspace go.