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SEC Banter: Deep thoughts, observations after two weeks of league play
0924Banter
LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) eludes Auburn defensive back Blake Countess (24) on a 40-yard touchdown run in the first half of a game Sept. 19 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. - photo by Gerald Herbert

Hotty Toddy gosh almighty, who the hell are we?

You are the Ole Miss Rebels, darlings of the conference in more ways than one.

The Rebels’ victory against Alabama vaulted them from No. 15 to No. 3 in the AP poll, matching Mississippi’s highest ranking ever.

Mississippi never ranks high in anything, unless you invert the rankings for illiteracy and obesity, in which Mississippi usually ranks No. 1.

In all seriousness, however, Ole Miss looks darn good. The Rebels beat Alabama in back-to-back years for the first time in school history, and notched their first win in Tuscaloosa since 1988. It can’t be a coincidence that Ole Miss last donned their powder blue hats in 1988, as well.

Mississippi’s offense is anchored by Chad Kelly, the quarterback who self-proclaimed himself as ‘Swag.’ He deserves the moniker thus far, as he’s a playmaker, even when he’s not trying to be (see the botched snap, desperation throw in a crowd, tipped ball turned into a 66-yard touchdown as Exhibit A).

Defensively, the Rebels are just sick, led by massive defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche (“Kem-DEE-chee,” just how you thought). With a favorable schedule – Ole Miss hosts Texas A&M as well as LSU in Oxford — it’s shaping up to be a very fine fall in The Grove.

Using Coach-Speak to Your Advantage

On a somewhat random note, listening to SEC coaches’ postgame comments recently reminded me that coaches speak unlike anyone else. Words come out of their mouths but seldom mean anything.

Heavy on clichés, double-talk and babble, coaches are almost as bad as lawyers when it comes to speaking.

But you can employ coach-speak to your advantage. Respond like a coach to work, family, and social situations and you’ll be amazed at the results.

For example, in response to “How are you doing?,” simply respond, “I’m taking it one game at a time, focused on the next opponent.” Say it with enough confidence and the other person will feel silly asking what the heck you’re talking about.

In response to “How’s the family?”, just say “I like my team.”

After closing that big deal under trying circumstances, tell everyone “It was us against the world. We’re going to savor this victory.”

When asked how you closed the deal – because that’s what you do, close deals – say “We won the battle in the trenches.” The other person will simply nod along, not having the slightest clue what you’re talking about.

Other coach-speak clichés to consider using in any number of situations:

“I thrive in adversity.”

“I leave it all on the field.”

“My team is like a family.”

“I’m really starting to gel.”

“I’m having a storybook season.”

“I have a lot of weapons.” WARNING: I advise against saying this at an airport, the workplace, or generally anywhere in public.

“I match up well with [insert that tool competitor of yours here].”

You get the drift. Talk like a coach. Have words come out of your mouth that mean nothing. It’s fun!

Breaking Down the Latest Rankings

Six SEC teams appear in the AP poll this week, but the Big ‘We actually have 14 teams including Maryland, which is stupid” 10 occupies the top two spots: Ohio State ranked No. 1 and Michigan State is second.

Gross.

SEC-wise, Ole Miss is the conference’s top-ranked team at No. 3, and the rest of the ranked league teams are as follows:
No. 7 Georgia: Greyson Lambert solidified the QB spot and solidified UGA as the solidified team to beat in the less-than-solidified SEC East.

I don’t think ‘solidified’ is used much outside of sports. You just don’t hear anyone say, “I’ve solidified my reputation as the best shower curtain ring salesman in the country.”

No. 8 LSU: Leonard Fournette. Wow. Some have poked fun at Auburn’s defense for essentially getting out of Fournette’s way instead of tackling the Tigers’ superb sophomore running back. But can you blame them?

No. 12 Alabama: No fan base in history has been so outraged by a No. 12 ranking.

No. 14 Texas A&M: Quietly going about its business doing agricultural and mechanical things and winning football games.

No. 25 Missouri: The Tigers are a hard team to read. Last year, Missouri lost to powerhouse Indiana at home but made it to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Then, last week they beat powerhouse Connecticut at home, 9-6, in a game that did not, remarkably, include any field goals.

Think about how you get to 9-6 without any field goals. It ain’t easy.

Enjoy your SEC Saturday, the last in September before we arrive at Banter’s favorite month: October.

In the meantime, I’ve been selected to participate in a contest LSU is sponsoring. I have to tackle Fournette head-on to win a spicy chicken family meal from Popeye’s.

I match up well against him. I thrive in adversity. And I’m really starting to gel. Wish me luck!

Ben Prevost writes SEC Banter for The Times. It appears on Thursday during college football season.

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