Tusk to Tail: Storming Into the first kickoff
“Brace yourself for Tropical Storm Isaac.”
It is never a good sign when The Weather Channel sounds like they are announcing the next DJ at a strip club. Since then, Isaac matured into a Category 1 hurricane, and looks set on visiting more SEC campuses than a blue chip recruit.
Tusk To Tail remains undeterred.
Since forecasts and storm models change by the hour, I asked the crew if lingering rains would affect tailgate or game plans. Nobody plans to spend less time than usual, rain or shine. In fact, the closest resemblance to a fair weather fan I found was when Dale Cullins said that hard rain could force him to stay in the tailgate tent to watch the game on pay-per-view. How is that for dedication? Hurricane-strength storms could cause Tusk To Tail to tailgate longer.
This column is designed to be an update between Cullins’ Tuesday Tailgate Tips and the weekend’s main event. However, for the first game, we have had at least nine months to get ready. Trust me, we are prepared. If stores ceased to sell tailgate supplies today, I bet Tusk To Tail would be able to get by for the entire season on our stockpiled reserves.
In the meantime, our intrepid Godfather of Tailgating joined me for a night of Phish in Oklahoma City, which appears to be quite literally tailgating on acid for some. The same pop-up canopies that populate our campus on game day line the parking lot as concert-goers prepare for the show. Perhaps Shakedown Street eventually intersects with Razorback Road.
Finally, this column will feature a few weekly predictions from the members of Tusk to Tail. This week, we keep it fairly simple, with some bonus projections from the Godfather's consigliere, who has requested anonymity. As a nod to the Phish show, he will be known as our man Mulcahey. Here is what we picked:
• Sean Casey
Season Record: 9-3 with losses to Alabama, Texas A&M, and South Carolina
Final Score vs. Jacksonville State: Hogs 56, Crowe St 17
Impact Player: Ronnie Wingo finally finds his niche — 43 yards rushing, 203 yards receiving.
• Jack Clark
Season Record: 11-1. Lose to Auburn, but due to the 19th bylaw in the SEC rules, lose in a heartbreaking division tiebreaker that allows LSU to win the west, even though we pound them after Thanksgiving.
Final Score vs. Jacksonville State: 50-13 Hogs
Impact Player: Dennis Johnson runs the opening kick back for a TD. Later in the half he has a punt return for TD called back for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty because JLS ran onto the field thinking it was halftime. I think Chris Gragg will be another outstanding player for us this year. He is a real go-to guy.
• Dale Cullins
Season Record: 10-2, I think we beat Bama or LSU at home and lose to South Carolina.
Final Score vs. Jacksonville State: 45-10. I figure John L. will not run up the score too bad.
Impact Player: This week I think Jonathan Williams, the RB out of Texas. I hear he has been tearing it up in practice and they will want to give him a look in live action — 12 carries for 108 yards.
For the year, I think Brandon Mitchell will be the breakout player at wideout. He is big and he is fast. He can stretch the field, catch some great mismatches, and I think he will be a great blocker for Davis, helping seal the edge for some long TD runs.
• Greg Houser
Season Record: 11-1. BCS bound, baby. I have a reservation in South Beach in January already! The loss comes to Mississippi State. It will be a freak Saturday. We will bumble, stumble, and give it away that game.
Final Score vs. Jacksonville State: 63-14, Arkansas
Impact Player: Chris Gragg. Gragg doesn’t break ankles. He breaks shoulder pads and facemasks.
• Craig May
Season Record: 10-2, with losses to South Carolina and LSU.
Final Score vs. Jacksonville State: 45-3, Arkansas
Impact Player: Dennis Johnson. He should get lots of touches on Saturday with the coaching staff still being cautious with Knile Davis. I think he’ll give us a spark on kickoff returns. He has the ability to effect the game on several fronts.
• David Rice
Season Record: 9-3, with losses to South Carolina, Mississippi State, and LSU. Not being a road team, coupled with the distractions of the coaching search and late-season injuries cause a November nosedive.
Final Score vs. Jacksonville State: 55-10
Impact Player: Tyler Wilson. Let’s not outthink ourselves here. We have two Heisman candidates, but one will be pulled early to insure his health. Wilson throws for 3 scores and more than 300 yards before being pulled early in the third quarter.
• Mark Wagner
Season Record: 9-3 Losses to Rutgers (because of the emotional letdown from the win over Alabama), Texas A & M (because they become the new Florida and the SEC office will want them to finally win a game against Arkansas), and South Carolina (Spurrier finally gets his Cocks ready to fight).
Final Score vs. Jacksonville State: Hogs win 42-10.
Impact Player: Dennis Johnson. Knile gets his early, then they hold him out. DJ goes crazy anytime he touches a ball, including a kickoff return for a touchdown, playing for his Grandmother.
I also predict that the Mayans were wrong, as well as most of the TV evangelists who said the world would end in the year 2000 (I know I'm right on this one). I also predict that sometime on Saturday I will eat cheese dip and have a Sweet Tea Vodka with Lemonade, respectfully known as a John Daly. Finally I predict there will be no donuts with sprinkles at the tailgate party.
To protect his identity, the consigliere sends cryptically dictated missives. I have attempted to decode the following:
I expect us to lose three games this year. I cannot predict which three we will lose, because I think that the problem with this team will be consistency. We will miss Bobby Petrino’s leadership. Therefore I expect us to lose one game in which we are favored. I would expect us to win this weekend by at least 24 points.
John L. lacks Bobby Petrino's consistency, it seems from an outsider’s point of view. However, I do think that he has a raw element that Petrino lacks. I could see us winning games based on this that we might not have under Petrino, but losing a couple of others. I would expect the long term health of our program to deteriorate if John L. Smith was named the full time head coach. I would also expect this team to not perform as well later in the year as it moves further away from Petrino’s discipline.
• Bonus Predictions from Mulcahey
Jack Clark will beat me to the tailgate, but he will have many more mood swings than me during the tailgate.
At least one adult member of Tusk To Tail will sneak away at least twice for clandestine cigarette breaks.
After seeing Phish, David Rice will make at least 5 random band references.
As consigliere, I will be at the tailgate for less than an hour, but will attempt to have at least 4 drinks. I will also ask why all the food is gone, despite arriving as everyone is packing up to go to the game.