Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Word On D.T. Shackelford

Before getting to Florida's spring practice recap, a few selfish moments of self-pity for me.  So please, try to ignore any and all feelings Ole Miss linebacker D.T. Shackelford might have after watching all of his effort, pain, and sacrifices to play football in 2011 cruelly snatched away from him during a routine drill, and focus your attention on me.  HEY, STOP LOOKING OVER THERE AT THE EMOTIONALLY DESTROYED 21-YEAR OLD.  I'M RIGHT HERE.

To you non-Ole Miss people, unbelievers as we like to call you (or perhaps geniuses; I'm not sure which), Shackelford was the one bright spot on a defense that, well, was the worst defense I've ever seen at Ole Miss.  He played hard, gave a crap, and made plays, which, given what we were watching, was a rarity in 2010.  He played so well and had such physical gifts, that he started five games at defensive end, a terribly undersized defensive end, but a defensive end that contributed.

By all accounts, he had become the new leader of the defense, leading both by example and through shouts of GET YOUR ASS IN GEAR.  And to lose him for the entire 2011 season is a devastating blow, especially since the defense wasn't going to be much better than last year's.  Now, it may not make any sense to say that because it was a defense that was going to stink anyway, but, if a defense has its rock and best player, despite whatever is around him, an outstanding performance or two is not out of the question, thus setting the table for a possible upset.

Without that leader and best player, and barring someone else filling that role (UNLIKELY), those chances for upsets go away.  And the thought of that, some five months away from the start of the season, has caused me to say similar things to the Sports God(s) responsible for this business:

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