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The Protagonist keeps living the dream

Mark of The Protagonist.
Mark of The Protagonist.

The Auburn-West Virginia game had everything: rain, fireworks, fast people, yards, points, turnovers and Zombie Nation. It was all there. And Auburn won. As West Virginia fans would say, “Don’t get no better than that.” (Take that, you rowdy, raucous hicks.)

The Pregame

I wish I could say I was one of those loyal fans who sang and danced in the rain before the game. It looked like lots of fun. But I didn’t. I stood beside a trash can on the concourse and watched Rasheem Barrett seduce drunk white girls.

I got to the stadium late and couldn’t find a seat. Standing in the rain in the designated handicap section gets old quick.

Sheem and DeWayne Reed and Lucas Hargrove [Ed. note: Cool Hand Luuuuuuuke!!!!!] — who was wearing a snazzy straw hat which looked to be protecting his eyes and face from the rain — were standing several feet away in a circle.

A white towel was draped over Sheem’s head, and he was wearing his trademark gold-flaked boots complete with purple shoestrings. Groups of girls, mostly of the sundress sorority type, kept approaching and taking pictures with him. He would say something and they would laugh and touch his arm. Sheem knows what he is doing. Sure, the girl hanging around him the most was a couple of pounds overweight and only wearing one flip-flop. I ain’t hatin’. Well, maybe on girls attracted simply to status, which at an SEC school means athletes. I do hate on that idea. But that is like hating the sun for being bright or salt for being salty; it’s a law of nature, best just to accept and move on. So moving on to actual pre-game stuff …

The rain and lightning jacked everything up. No band and no eagle flight. There were, however, pyrotechnics and fireworks. Pre-game warmups left brown footprints all over the field.

The Protagonist

There are heroes among us. Sometimes they put out fires or stop the bad people. But sometimes — and this is a rarity — sometimes they are shirtless wanderers stumbling around the top of the student section alone. Such was “The Protagonist” (credit to my friend Chris for the name).

The Protagonist was a short and overweight white guy with black hair and wide, bloodshot eyes. His chest was covered in dark, coarse (I assume) hair that seemed to radiate from his nipples. A camo-colored version of the Browning logo was tattooed on his right scapula.

When I first saw him, he was clutching a bowtie in his left hand. He stumbled from row to row, dropping a miniature liquor bottle in the process of attaching the bowtie. At the start of the game he was shirtless with the bow tie around his neck attempting to communicate by way of sign language with a group of pledges.

The Protagonist Game Log

7-0 Saunteres off in search of food. Starts walking down stairs as if they are an escalator in reverse.

14-0 Returns with drink and bright orange Auburn visor, which he is wearing upside down, bill to the sky. Engages a guy wearing a furry Russian-style hat often worn in cold climates. Hands gesticulating wildly. Drink spills on ground and neighbors.

14-3 The Protagonist now wears a rain jacket he found on the seat beside him. Still shirtless with visor. No longer wearing bow tie. Really, really enjoying Zombie Nation’s “Kernkraft 400 (Sport Chant Remix)” before the kickoff.

14-10 Talks to a group of girls. Repeated touching on upper arm. Girls laugh but try to escape.

21-10 Throws visor in air, surprisingly catching it every time. Shakes the shaker he found as if Auburn’s success depends on it.

Halftime The West Virginia band is playing their halftime show from their seats. The Protagonist thinks this is “queer.” He gives them the “double bird,” one-bird uppercut combo.

Later as I leave the bathroom and head back to my seat, I see The Protagonist talking to two white-shirted event staff members.

“Found your shirt yet?” one of the guys asks.

The Protagonist looks him in the eye and slowly unzips his jacket. Still shirtless.

30-27 The visor is righted, but the jacket is missing and he’s holding a Trooper Towel, which he is alternatively throwing in the air and using to whip the girl to his right.

41-30 Stevens scores on the interception return and The Protagonist, who now has sunglasses hanging around his neck, is staring at the JumboTron as if it was the face of the one true God.

Keep living that dream, The Protagonist.

Players That Done Good

Chris Todd My God, that is Chris Todd? Did you see that one pass to Darvin Adams in the back of the end zone? The one that hit Adams in the arm? That was crazy. West Virginia basically nullified the running game, deciding to make Todd beat them. And he did. It has been a couple of years since that has happened (see: Cox, Brandon).

Darvin Adams To be honest, I didn’t even know who Darvin Adams was until this season. Well, now I and Auburn fans everywhere know and love him. Six catches, three touchdowns. That’s nice. And that catch in the back of the end zone on third down? Holy.

Defensive Players Who Forced Turnovers Complain about missed tackles and yards after catch all you want, the defense forced six turnovers, all of them in key situations. A big hat tip to Mr. Jake Ricks and Mr. Craig Stevens for reading the inside shuffle pass the way they did.

Antonio Coleman For sacking the backup quarterback by using the left tackle as a projectile. I expect no less of a strategic genius.

Gus Malzahn OK, he’s not a player. But he is a genius. And without him things would have been embarrassing Saturday. Thanks, Gustav. Don’t ever leave us.

The Not So Good

I’ll leave that to other people who dwell on those things. Me, I’m an eternal optimist. I choose to see only the positive. That’s why I don’t look at the 509 yards given up or the kickoff coverage or the lack of receivers not named Adams and Zachery. Nope, I just look at the good.

About Ben Bartley

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