The Game: VMI at Furman
Last Week: Riding a stellar defensive effort, a record-breaking field goal, and some timely big plays on offense, the Fighting Football Paladins defeated the UCF Knights 16-15 for its first victory over a FBS opponent since 1999. You can read more about that here.
Are We Any Good? Yes! Granted, last week was one game and all the positive momentum drops dead if Furman loses its SoCon opener to VMI. Yet the UCF game provided much about which to be encouraged besides the final score. The defense looked incredible. The offense made some noise. They finally got some turnovers. Probably most impressively was the way, the Paladins seemed to get stronger down the stretch which was like the Bizarro World version of every game I have seen them play against a FBS team. Throw in the passion and energy the Paladins demonstrated (the way they poured onto the field after Hollingsworth hit the 55 yarder) and there was a lot to like.
Opposing Team's Mascot: The Keydets. What is a Keydet? Even VMI's athletic website is not exactly sure. The US Military Academy says it could refer to a cadet's gray uniform. There is even a theory that Keydet is simply "cadet" with a super-thick Southern accent. It's also important to note that a kangaroo has served as the mascot for VMI since the late 40s and they have actually employed live kangaroos at games before (alas they do not presently have a live kangaroo).
They also apparently had a live wallaby at one time. I'd like to know how this happened. Was it a mistake? Could they not get a kangaroo and just figured, "Hey, it's a marsupial. No one will know the difference." And people might not have noticed. Yet imagine if LSU replaced Mike the Tiger with an ocelot. Even if you didn't know the difference between a tiger and an ocelot, wouldn't you be kind of disillusioned once you found out? Regardless, here's the bottom line: For the second consecutive week, Furman is playing a team whose mascot should really be something else that is within the school's tradition.
Suggested Hashtag: #wallabeatthekeydets
Et cetera: Context: VMI was in the Southern Conference until 2002 and then rejoined last year. And last season was the first time VMI beat Furman in my lifetime. There were things that I just accepted in life: the sky is blue, grass is green, and Furman beats VMI. Obviously the lesson is you should never take an opponent for granted (and VMI soundly beat us last year), but still it was jarring. So I'm hoping Furman makes things right tomorrow. It's too late for me and my sons concerning a lifetime perfect record against VMI, but consider some cute, little infant Furman fan out there. You could start a new streak for that little guy or girl.
Anything else? Go Paladins!