Tusk to Tail: These Hog fans will run out of booze long before they run out of optimism

The Arkansas Razorback Football program damn near came off the rails just a few months ago, yet the Tusk to Tail crew believe a bowl game is possible this year. When you do a group all at once, can you get a discount on drug testing?

Yep, the Tusk to Tailers believe a 6-win season and a bowl game somewhere on state fairgrounds is possible this year. We’ll see how long the honeymoon sticks around.

THE QUESTION: Predict the Razorbacks season record, including post-season if you think they are eligible.

Todd Rudisill: No Hog Kool-Aid this year, just lots and lots of Red Bull. Who knows what to expect going into the first season with Coach Morris? It does worry me that he had to wait until 5 days before the opener to name a starting quarterback. I just don’t have a good feeling about that position. I think we see Connor Noland take over at some point this year and prepare for the future. Morris’ system relies on a running QB and neither Kelly or Storey are that. The offensive line injuries are another thing that scares me.

On the defensive side of the ball, I think we are going to have the best secondary in recent memory with depth back there. I think the Hogs go 8-4 and a bowl win. Wait scratch that I’ve come crashing down off my four Red Bulls. Make that 6-6 and a bowl appearance in Birmingham. I don’t know how Morris does this Red Bull thing.

David Rice: Everything points to this being another rebuilding year. I was all prepared to say five wins was this team’s ceiling this season. But then they put that big Hog on the new scoreboard and released hype videos of hardworking players earning scholarships and wearing all-white unis, and now I’m too excited to sleep at night. I’ll now say 6-6 plus a trip to a lower tier bowl game seem possible. This young team would be well served by an extra month of bowl practice.

Willard Grandview: Structure. It’s defined as the quality of being organized. And it’s something Razorback Football appears to have lacked for some time. I’m convinced that out of all the things Chad Morris brings to the table (and there are many), structure will make the biggest difference for the 2018-2019 Razorbacks. Structure will allow the Hogs to prevail over teams like Eastern Illinois, Colorado State, North Texas, Tulsa, and Vanderbilt. And perhaps if they can build a little momentum and confidence they’ll eke out a sixth win against a dispirited SEC West team that either overlooks them or has nothing to play for late in the year. I’m bullish on the Hogs moving forward. But for this year six wins with a loss to Georgia Tech in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville is the ceiling. Woo Pig!

• Eastern Illinois @ Arkansas
Sean Casey:  Chad Morris’s time at Arkansas begins with an updated stadium, all white uniforms, and an easy opponent in Eastern Illinois. Some fans will groan, grumble and whine about white uniforms but let me tell you what looks good. Winning looks good and Morris’s first game as a Hog will be a W. Admittedly Morris inherited a bare cupboard thanks to Bret & Co. but the Hogs still have better talent than the Eastern Illinois Panthers. Morris’ team will struggle early trying out different offensive and defensive packages and putting players in different positions, but ultimately depth and heat will put the Panthers away. It won’t be pretty but the Hogs win 41-17.

Greg Houser: Left lane and hammer down! Regardless of what happens the rest of the year, better conditioning and better athletes will make for a convincing win this Saturday. Jeff Long may have had a laugh at our expense with a loss to Kansas in Volleyball, but Coach Chad Morris will have the Razorbacks in 8-9 win territory quickly! Mark my words, the Piggies won’t be looking back in the rear-view mirror. I can’t wait to see what the Razorbacks will look like in all sports over the next few years. With everything in front of us, this Kool-Aid tastes pretty darn good. Hogs by 17.

Todd Rudisill: We know Morris will give us a little taste of his up-tempo passing game in this one. But the main course will be the run with this talented backfield who run 4-deep with Whaley, Hayden, Hammonds, and JUCO transfer Boyd. All Hogs, 34-10.

Mac Garland: I’m excited about Coach Morris, but glad I wasn’t asked to pick the season record. Change from Pro Style to the Spread will be a challenge. As SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey has said, we should call this Year Zero. But I think Coach Morris and the Hogs work out the kinks of the new style on the FCS Panthers. It’s a great warmup before heading west. Razorbacks win 49-14.

• #20 Virginia Tech @ #19 Florida State
Sean Casey: This Monday night matchup completes the opening weekend of college football, and it will be good game to watch. On Labor Day, head coach Justin Fuente leads the Va Tech Hokies into Doak Campbell Stadium to face the Florida State Seminoles led by new head coach Willie Taggart. Two of the ACC’s best teams are facing off and I expect a slug fest in the trenches. Despite losing good defensive players, both teams are still defense-oriented and neither boasts a potent offense. Home field and Tallahassee heat get the assist as Florida State narrowly pulls out the win in a low scoring game. FSU wins 20-17.

Shawn Pate: Florida State will always have talent, and they are playing at home. Virginia Tech played mediocre football at the end of last season. There are too many variables (including the game being played on Labor Day) in this game to feel comfortable picking a team. However, having a new coaching staff creates extra uncertainty. I’ll go with Virginia Tech, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

• #17 West Virginia vs. Tennessee
Shawn Pate: Like Arkansas, the wheels came off for Tennessee last year. Although fans might be excited about the new coaching staff, there just doesn’t seem to be enough talent for much to change this year. At a neutral site, this looks like an easy win for West Virginia.

Todd Rudisill: The Vols will be back someday. Just not this day. WVU and Will Grier (Florida QB transfer) win 35-24.

• #14 Michigan @ #12 Notre Dame
Greg Houser: Notre Dame has to hinge any hopes of playoff football on this Saturday. With no official affiliation, and the fact the ACC can and will deliver 2 losses to the Irish, the Golden Domers need a W in the worst way. Michigan plays in a conference that finally rivals an SEC gauntlet. It’ll be interesting to see if the Wolverines are prepared with Shea Patterson (from Ole Miss) at QB. I’ll take the Irish by 3.

• #8 Miami vs. #25 LSU
Mac Garland: LSU has changed OCs again and have actually gone back to the guy they had when Ed O was the interim coach. It won’t help. Miami is building on the momentum they had most of last season and I expect them to curb stomp LSU. 42–17 Miami.

• #6 Washington vs. #9 Auburn
Willard Grandview: Check out the depth chart for the 6th-ranked Washington Huskies. You’ll find names like Levi Onwuzurike, Benning Potoa’e, and Ben Kurr-Kiven. And they have teammates called Chico, Jusstis, Jaxson, Josiah, Tevis, and JoJo. If you don’t think Willard Grandview wants to get on board with that squad, well, you don’t know Willard Grandview. Also, I very much look forward to bathing in the tears of Auburn fans every time they lose and complain about their $7 million coach, knowing it was Arkansas who pushed that price tag so high. Alas, I can’t get on board with a Pac-12 team coming into Atlanta and beating an SEC power. Auburn 29, UW 25.

Todd Rudisill: This game features two good defenses. Washington is looking to redeem itself against the mighty SEC after being embarrassed by Bama. Give Washington the edge with 9 starters back on defense and the nation’s 8th best defense. Pac-12 wins in a nail biter 31-28.
Editor’s note: Welcome to the seventh season of Tusk to Tail – 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. Tusk to Tail is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by the River Valley Smile Center … because it’s another dang rebuilding year and you’re gonna need a good smile to get through the season. The diehards may also be followed on their Facebook page. Or follow the crew on Twitter — @TuskToTail