Friday, August 29, 2008

College Football Is Finally Here!!!

The 2008 season officially kicked off on Thursday night, but the season really launches in earnest on Saturday. Saturdays in the fall are college football. Many things to look forward to. First, of course, are my Gators. The Gators feature the reigning Heisman Trophy winner -- and apparently off-season circumcisor -- in Tim Tebow. Tebow is the first sophomore ever to win the award that goes to the best player in Division I. Tebow is also the first college quarterback to rush for 20 TDs and throw for 20 TDs. The thing about that stat is that it really understates Tebow's year, because Tebow really is the first QB to rush for 20 TDs and throw for 30 TDs. I do not expect Tebow to have the same statistical success this season. Mainly because I think the team has better RBs behind him this year who will take some of those carries and TDs from him. Look for RB Emmanuel Moody -- the Texas high school prospect and transfer from USC -- to leave his mark this season. (By the way, Moody wants to be a pastor too. Tebow and Moody would make a heckuva flag football tandem for Campus Crusade, no?)

The real key to UF's season is improved play on defense. Based on preseason -- which means virtually nothing -- the UF secondary has been making plays instead of trying not to make mistakes. The result has been much improved play in scrimmages. Hopefully that translates on the field when the games count. I think the D-line will be improved too. Another season older. And bigger. And stronger. Some new ideas from a new D-line coach may help inject some life as well. So Tebow's stats are down, but the Gators win 10 or 11 in the regular season.

I have several UGA fans who read and/or stalk this blog, so I would be remiss if I didn't say something about their beloved pups. First, thank you for taking the #1 preseason spot -- and the pressure that comes with it. Next, I'm still not convinced that Stafford is the guy. Yes, he played very well in Jax last year. But Moreno controlled that game as much as anyone. He needs to improve his completion percentage and lower the INTs to take that team where the voters think it should be at the end of the season. I'm also not listening to the ... stuff ... about the tough schedule either. In 2006, the Gators ran a similar gauntlet of teams on the way to the SEC title and BCS championship. If you win 'em, you'll deserve the title. If not, well then I suspect you'll whine about the really hard schedule and all its unfairness. Woe is you.

Can't talk about the start of the season without acknowledging the strong possibility that Ohio State will end up in the BCS game for the third season in a row. They return almost the whole team from last year and have more than 40 fourth- and fifth-year players. That's a lot of leadership. (Or a lot of guys who know how to choke away title games -- depending on your point of view.) But let's face it, OSU has one tough game at USC that they could win if for no other reason than USC's starting QB is in his first year as the guy and is returning from a knee injury in preseason practice. Plus this may be the first year in this run of Pete Carroll teams where the offensive stars are not there. The stars on that team are on defense. OSU has guys on both sides of the ball. OSU's RB, Wells, is probably better than Knowshon Moreno because he's got one more year of experience and is bigger than Knowshon. Wells could pass 2000 yards this season if he stays healthy. After USC, I guess OSU has "tough" games with Wisconsin and Illinois. Some would argue Michigan too (well, Brent Musburger would), but this is a year when Michigan should not be an issue because RichRod is completely revamping how the Wolverines play offense.

There are many more things to touch on. Can Bo Pellini bring back the Black Shirts in Lincoln? Can Paul Johnson win in the ACC with that triple-read Wing-T offense of his? How will Tommy Bowden find a way to squander Clemson's chance to win the ACC this year? Will ESPN ever put us out of our misery and retire Lou Holtz? PLEASE!!! Feel free to discuss these or raise a few more in the comments.

(I am watching the SMU game as I type this. Really enjoying June Jones getting waxed by the Owls of Rice. Too bad he won't be on the visiting sideline tomorrow in the Swamp when Hawaii faces the Gators. Really wish he could see UF's "system quarterback" shred his alma mater.)

Monday, August 11, 2008


I am switching up the playlist on the blog for a while. This is a collection of songs that I have labeled "Nourish." I've had this list for a while but decided the time was right to add it. Given some of my experiences in Scotland and some other things I/we are praying about, this list is resonating with me right now. I figured why not share it with the handful of people who visit the site? Be nourished.

(Photo: sunset over Paisley, Scotland)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Funny moment in Scotland

The day after we arrived in Scotland, we took a trip to Edinburgh. Saw a good deal of the Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. However, a couple of our team members (Austin and Marni) came over late and missed the Edinburgh day. After they arrived, we were focused on camp preparations and then camp itself. The Saturday after camp was scheduled as a much-needed day of rest with no responsibilities. However, Austin and Marni were wanting to get some sightseeing in before boarding the plane back for the States (they had to leave early too). They asked me if I wanted to join them in Edinburgh for the day on Saturday since I had already been there and could serve a pseudo-guide (talk about the blind leading the blind, but I agreed).

Austin and Marni were going to hitch a ride with Tom and Leigh Ann Fraley who were driving over to the Edinburgh area to look for a place to live (Tom was the camp speaker). All 5 of us were dropped off at the Glasgow airport on Saturday morning so Tom could pick up his rental car. He rented a Vauxhall, but the one they set aside for him had a flat, so he got upgraded to a Saab. After a couple of circles around several airport roundabouts, we managed to find the M8 to Edinburgh and off we went in our blue Saab. (Let me say, I wasn't driving the car, but it could go! And it was a much smoother drive than the van ride we took the previous week over the same stretch of Scottish highway.) We made it from Glasgow to the Edinburgh city centre (that's the Scottish spelling by the way) in about an hour and 15 minutes. (Like I said, the Saab could go, and Fraley was not afraid of testing it's ability to transport us quickly -- while always observing the posted speed limits of course.)

So then we walked around Edinburgh checking out the usual sites. We got rained on. Marni and Austin tested the fried Mars bar at a fish-n-chips shop on the Royal Mile. We purchased some souvenirs. Ate lunch at a pub that turned out to have a rather Bennigan-ized menu, although over there the bacon cheeseburger comes with what Americans might refer to as Canadian bacon. Much different experience that. And then it was time to meet the Fraleys to head back to the camp outside Paisley for dinner. When we neared Paisley, we called the camp to see where everyone was. A group of people had gone to ASDA to buy some food items to take home as souvenirs.

(Aside: ASDA traces its history to the 1920s from two separate enterprises: a family-owned butcher shop and a cooperative of sorts of dairy farmers. Today, however, ASDA is part of the Wal-Mart family, and it looks very much like a mini-Wal-Mart Supercenter inside with a green color scheme instead of the Wal-Mart blue. The running joke in Scotland is that "ASDA" stands for "Americans Stealing Dollars Abroad." Regardless, ASDA had a great selection of biscuits (cookies), crisps (potato chips), shortbread fingers and tea that made great gifts for people.)

So we stopped at ASDA to pick up some more souvenirs. After finishing there, we decided to drive back to the camp. But we really didn't know the way, and we didn't have a Paisley map to guide us. So Fraley and I winged it. We'd driven from the camp into Paisley several times over the week; we figured we could feel our way back. So on we went. We took a couple of turns that looked familiar. We knew that the camp was up on the hills above Paisley towards the east. So we took a right on a road that sorta looked familiar and appeared to take us in that general direction. After driving a little while though, it was clear that this was not the road we wanted.

I saw a fish-n-chips shop and told Fraley to let me out. I'd go in and ask directions back to the camp. I jumped out and ran in. There was a tall, thin older gentleman at the counter waiting for his order and a couple working behind the counter frying away; looked like a father and daughter. I waited at the counter for a spell waiting for the owner to look up from his fryer. He did, and I asked him if he could tell me how to get back to the Lapwing Lodge scout camp just outside Paisley. He'd never heard of it. No problem. The older gentleman said "where?" I repeated the Lapwing Lodge scout camp. "Oh! You're miles away!!" he belted in a classic Scottish drawl. But then he proceeded to give me what seemed like simple directions back to the where we needed to be. All the while, I had his comment repeating in my head (You're miles away!! You're miles away!! You're miles away!!) while trying to retain the directions he'd given.

So I exited the establishment and looked for Fraley's blue car (with You're miles away!! banging away in my brain along with the directions.). Where's the blue car? There's the blue car. So I jog across the street up to the passenger door of the blue car and jump in yelling "You're miles away!!" as I sit down.

Then a woman says to me: "You're in the wrong car!!!"

And I look up flashing to the woman; then to the back seat where 2 other ladies are seated; and then to the blue Saab in front of this blue car where Austin and Marni are plastered to the rear window laughing about as hard as anyone can without pulling their diaphragm. I blurt out, "I am SO sorry!" and jump up out of the car walking to the blue Saab that is now rocking (literally) because of the 4 adults inside it laughing hysterically.

I get in and wait while the 4 of them regain their composure. Fraley shares that he saw me cross the street and wondered "What is Bill doing getting in that car?" Then it dawned on me that I was fairly lucky. Thankfully, I did not jump into the car of some 300-pound guy who punched me in the face BEFORE telling me I was in the wrong car. And it was also to my advantage that none of the women in the car were armed with mace because that would've really put a damper on an otherwise fine day.

Eventually, things returned to normal, and we drove back towards Paisley. But in all the commotion, we were unable to take advantage of the directions I'd received. We had to call Lance to get additional directions. We made it home for dinner though, and we shared our adventure with everyone else. Who, as you can imagine, laughed heartily.

Glad I could oblige.