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Your team acquited itself well but no moreso than did your fearless leader Mr. Duck and the other members of WAB who ventured over to the VS tailgate. They were friendly and a pleasure to be with pregame and truly gracious in victory post game. The only names I can recall are those of Wayne, OrlandoTiger, Dabble and his wonderful wife and Bluto, but there were several other Auburn fans there that I failed to introduce myself to yet they too will always be most welcome to visit. I only hope that the time they spent in Gainesville was pleasant, the food good and the locals friendly.
The following I posted on the VS, but I know some people are not crossboard readers so please allow me to indulge myself and share it here as well.
There was no fog...
|but autumn came on little cat feet
|It sat looking over the campus and city
|on silent haunches
|and then moved on to the stadium with claws unsheathed.
A slideshow of moments from across the weekend form a collage in my mind...
Dinner at Emiliano’s on Friday. Tapas and beers and wine and soup and beers and wine and entrees and beers and wine and dessert and beers and wine and then some beers and wine UFNY and Mud ordering food and wine like they knew what they were doing. Meeting Wayne and Hungary. Viking and BabySis straight from Athens hustling over to join us. . Coach Tony making an appearance. BabySis convincing Intimigator to get out of his hotel to come join us. Cult like wait staff sporting the Freddy Kruger inspired slashing E moving us from dinning room to patio to door as the rounds of drinks passed into double digits and the hour crept toward dawn.
Bleary eyed I met a surprising coolness and a light refreshing breeze as I made my way to campus in the predawn hours of Saturday morning; putting up the pop-up and tables by feel in the dark.
Gator Tom arriving to help claim the tailgate spot after traveling through the dark from Green Cove Springs and enduring the denial of the Philistines who refused to sell him beer before 7am and then showed their awareness and intellect by commenting on what a fine quarterback Chris Tebow seemed to be.
JimFun arriving to add another car to spot holding duty as daybreak arrived and the first beer was poured.
JimG8R stopping mid-run in his campus circuit to talk before racing off down Museum Road.
The core of the tailgate arriving as Swamp Woman and SmartAlec brought enough stuff to fill a moving van yet managed to pack it all in their SUV. Unloading a smoker, a tv, satellite dish, tables, utensils, coolers, chairs, and food and food and food.
My wife and daughter bringing mid-morning snacks and sandwiches and refills on ice, not to mention dozens and dozens of orange and blue jello shooters.
Faces. Wayne, Mud, Coach Tony, Flea, Hungary, Chipola, Orange and Brew, Native and g74, grailgator and family, GatorTom, his brother Steven and his fiancee Laura, Dabble and his lovely wife, Bluto and more Aubies, UFNY, Viking and BabySis and their slave labor foreign exchange student, Bob and friends, OrlandoTiger, and so many more I’m doing a disservice in not naming. Drinking, laughing, eating and truly enjoying a great SEC tailgating experience.
Wilbur Marshall being inducted into the Ring of Honor. He got choked up, I got choked up, and anyone who didn’t doesn’t have a heart.
A great battle of a game that drove me to the peaks and valleys of expectations. We’re going to kill them, we have no chance, we might make it close, we can win it, and then…
A few consolation beers in the dark as we waited for traffic to clear. Wayne and OrlandoTiger were quite gracious winners. Proud of their team and yet not boasting or bragging or rubbing anyone’s face in it. I did have to tell my Wife OrlandoTiger is married lest she start thinking about trading up. We’ve all been on both sides of these affairs many times and we all know our turn at the flip side is always just around the corner.
Martinis and beers with a late smorgasbord thrown together by the unbelievable Mrs. Albert back at our home with a half dozen folks who needed a place to lay their head before riding out of town. Ruing the outcome, debating the reasons, and looking forward to the rest of the season.
A breakfast of eggs and bacon and sausage and homefries and great conversation before bidding our friends farewell and all but collapsing on the floor once I’d closed the door.
The game. Most of it has been said before. Way too much cushion on their receivers early on. UF seems to limit themselves in the running game by relying on Tebow 80% of the time. The penalties have gotten ridiculous and UF earned them. Hornsby running into the kicker was inexcusable. Instead of 3 and out UF allows Auburn to run a 15 play TD scoring drive. That put them in the position of playing catchup the rest of the game. The blocked FG was ridiculously low. Perhaps Joey is still feeling the groin injury, but that ball may not have been high enough to clear the crossbar even if it wasn’t blocked. Blocked FG, penalty on a fake punt, running into the punter, and a shank at the end of the game. Who here thought special teams would favor Auburn? It did in this game. The penalties on offense should not be happening with this regularity this far into the season in a home game. UF killed both of their first two drives with such errors. UF has to come out sharper in games against quality opponents. I’m not pleased with the overall play calling at this point in the year.
A final note on the game: I’m so glad I was completely wrong and that others who mocked me about my concern of the punting game were right. Good thing we didn’t have a problem with a punt in a pressure spot like we did at Ole Miss the week before. Could have seriously contributed to us losing the game. Glad that didn’t happen and that all is well on that front as I was told by several different posters it would be and I'm glad to know just how foolish I was to even raise such a concern.
The weekend. It was a blast. Friday night’s impromptu get together where I met Wayne for the first time was a great time. He is the same in real life as he is on the board – intelligent, funny, and a great fan of SEC football. As good as the dinner was the tailgate was over the top. Everyone who helped from Tom and Jim enduring the long lonely morning vigil with me to Kim and Greg hauling all that stuff three hours to Gainesville and doing the bulk of the cooking to everyone else who brought beer, food, and themselves made this event one of the best we’ve ever had. A special shout out to Bluto who just jumped in and did what needed to be done in helping us breakdown and put away all the tailgate stuff before the game. And made no move to leave until he was sure everything was done and we were finished. The way people conducted themselves at the tailgate was exemplary. The Aubies were respectful of our campus and fans and the VSers were gracious hosts and fine representatives of UF – both before and after the game. Thanks to everyone who stopped by.
If not for the friendship of my fellow tailgating Gators the reasonable attitude of the victors and the time spent with all of them I would have been crushed by this loss and counted the weekend as an absolute disaster. Instead I’m left knowing our young team will learn and grow from this difficult loss, the SEC is a bitch and we’re all going to have some losses, I have great friends, and I now have more great friends. I am very grateful to everyone, but particularly Mud and Wayne, who have created a place where the virtual touches the real and people touch each other. But not in a bad uncle Philbert kind of way.