Tusk to Tail: Optimism stops just short of the Hogs making a bowl game
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The football Razorbacks and their fans this year will have beer and wine in the stadium, real grass on the field, better wi-fi (allegedly), a ‘happy hour’ and an official craft brew. And that’s all good, but the Tusk to Tail crew doesn’t believe any of that will result in a bowl game.
What do you think the Razorbacks season record will be this year?
I’m going to go with a record of 5-7 this season. They should win all the non-conference games and find a way to beat one of Ole Miss, Kentucky or MSU. The improvement at quarterback and wide receiver will be positive, but the offensive line will be a problem all year.
4-8. By all objective measures, the Hogs are the worst team in the conference, and it’s not even close. Slight improvement in talent and consistency by the coaching staff will help us win our nonconference games, but it will be another winless year in the SEC. I hope I am wrong.
The Razorback record of 2-10 last year does not set the bar high for the 2019 season. Fortunately, we’ll see improvement on both sides of the ball, specifically on offense. The Hogs win all four non-conference games and pick up a conference win against Ole Miss in week 2. The Razorbacks will end up 5-7, one win away from being bowl eligible.
It’s game week! Better Wi-Fi, HogTown, and beer in the stadium! Oh my! Tusk to Tail’s blood is flowing for our first tailgate of the 2019 season, and our BAC may be even higher at kickoff than our hopes for the Hogs this season. There is hope where Coach Morris is taking this program, and they took a decent step with the incoming class we will see debut on Saturday. But there are many more steps to go before we get out of this hole. I like what Morris is doing from the inside out, starting with the culture, the recruiting class he brought in, and the 2020 class he is working on now. It just takes time. What worries me is that Morris has not led off any of his press conferences praising anything about the offensive line. Once again, it doesn’t matter who the QB is if we can’t block for him.
I’m predicting 6-6 but will probably be 5-7. I am holding out hope that our offensive line gets better as the season progresses. Ole Miss in week 2 is a key game that will tell us a lot really quickly. I say the Hogs get SEC wins over Kentucky and Missouri. Who wouldn’t want to play in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl at the end of the year?
• Portland State @ Arkansas
Coach Chad Morris has named Ben Hicks to start the first game of 2019. I’m not sure if it is a positive that Ben knows what each position on O is supposed to do or a negative that with the number of freshman starting on offense, they don’t know how to line up correctly. With Vegas not wanting to set a line, it appears 2018 history has a lot do with 2019 predictions. With that being said, I think the Hogs score on both offense and defense, and win going away 48-14.
In what should be a dominating performance by Arkansas over a bottom dwelling Big Sky opponent, my focus will be on the offense and if they have got out of the right lane yet and are close to the “hammer down” philosophy we heard so much about last year. Chad’s got his work cut out for him with the lack of upperclassmen, but the future is definitely bright on the Hill.
Hog fans have been trashing Ben Hicks since the second he was named the starter on Monday, and the poor kid has not even played a snap yet. Arkansas fans always know more than the coach. The Vikings gave up 62 to Oregon, 72 to Nevada, and 74 at home to Eastern Washington last season, and returns 19 starters from last year. Hicks, Starkel, Jerry’s grandson, and K.J. “The Future” Jefferson will all see action in this dress rehearsal before traveling to Oxford for a real football game in the SEC opener. Razorbacks win this one 57-10.
• Ole Miss @ Memphis
This will be a low scoring game but home field advantage and experience will be just enough for Memphis to beat an Ole Miss team full of players who don’t have many starts under their belt. Memphis 21, Ole Miss 17.
The Black Bears return nine starters from an awful defense last season. It won’t be much better this year. Memphis, on the other hand, has a pretty good defense and an offense that can do it all. The Tigers defense makes more stops than the Rebels in a wild shootout. The American Athletic Conference gets a big win over the SEC in the Liberty Bowl 47-39. Of course that will get Ole Miss fired up before they play us next weekend.
• South Carolina vs. North Carolina
Mack Brown last paced the sidelines for the Tarheels in 1997, which was also Danny Ford’s last season at Arkansas. I guess be thankful we don’t have North Carolina’s nostalgic AD. Sackerlina pulls away late. 35-24 Gamecocks.
• #11 Oregon vs. #16 Auburn
Oregon and Auburn will meet in Arlington Texas. Aubie will break in a new QB and rely on a great defensive line. Oregon returns a solid offensive line and one of the top quarterbacks in the country with Justin Herbert. I predict a narrow victory for the guys in green or yellow or whatever wacky uniform Nike gives them this year. The Ducks pull out the narrow victory 24-20.
The little ole Pac-12 needs and wants this game against the mighty SEC so badly. The SEC is 5-1 against the Pac-12 over the past few years. It’s all lined up for the Ducks. They have a first rounder starting at quarterback and Auburn is starting a freshman. But the Auburn defensive line is the Auburn defensive line – always damn good up front. That’s probably the difference. Auburn wins 27-24. Sorry Pac-12.
• #3 Georgia @ Vanderbilt
To quote Bob Dylan as well as Guns n’ Roses loosely, the lethal backfield combo of DeAndre Swift and Zamir White will lead Georgia into knock knock knockin the heavens out of the Dores on Saturday night. Vanderbilt’s lackluster run defense will have a hard time containing these two, and look for Georgia to cover the 20-point spread with ease.
Can you imagine the crazy atmosphere at Vanderbilt Stadium for #3 Georgia coming? 30,000 Georgia fans will make it very tough for the Commodores on their home field. This will be typical Georgia. Ugly early and then putting it into high gear in the 2nd half. Dawgs cruise 37-14.
• Duke vs. #1 Alabama
I think the AD at Duke thought this was a basketball scheduling until Coach Cutcliffe came running down the hall to ask how much money they get to be Bama’s latest victim. The Blue Devils start out quickly with a TD, but Tua Tagovailoa and the Bama offense get it going quickly and never look back. This is just a practice session for The Tide. Bama 52-14 over Duke.
Editor’s note: Now in its eighth year, Tusk to Tail is the sport of tailgating as organized, performed and perfected by a group of Hog fans who have been tailgating together sober and otherwise for more than a decade. The primary focus of Tusk to Tail will be to follow the Hogs through the fans’ perspective with their insightful, irreverent, smart-alecky and sometimes practical style. Tusk to Tail sponsors are the Arkansas Lottery Scholarship program and Turn Key Construction Management. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter and Instagram, all @TuskToTail.