As the game was looking like a replay of last weekend's Miss. State game, the title possibilities for this post included "Same Old, Same Old." But with the entry of Casey Dick for his younger brother in the second half and the storybook finish to Casey's Arkansas career, it became "A Tale of Two Dicks" (When would I ever get to use this again? haha). It was the best of times and the worst of times of the 2008 season encapsulated into one game. Here's twenty-one observations from an older brother who was there.
1. The morning of the Miss. State game involved my crossing the path of a black cat on the way back from getting a paper and the needed sports section. I jokingly told my mother that we might as well call Petrino and the Hogs back from Starkville. Game over. This morning while going for a paper I crossed the path of yet another cat. But it was not entirely black and wasn't wearing LSU purple and gold, so just maybe things would turn out alright.
2. From Warren to Pine Bluff to Little Rock, my mother and I met one vehicle that was obviously going to the game, and it had a tiger tail hanging out the trunk and Louisiana plates. Would the Hog faithful be there?
3. It turns out that they were and for the most part stuck through the bad weather that was suppose to stay south of Little Rock and the unanswered LSU points of the 2nd and 3rd quarters. The LSU fans travelled well themselves, I should add.
4. The feel walking through the golf course was one that didn't have the buzz of the 2006 game. You could feel in the air that much less was at stake today. But it was still an Arkansas football game, and we wouldn't be seeing one of these for a long time, so I considered myself "up" for the game! I was just hoping the players were feeling the same thing.
5. There was still the "Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez" element about the LSU tailgaters even in a year that wouldn't end in a national championship. I did spot a group of LSU fans, beer in hands, dancing to Cajun music inside the courtyard they had made with their parked RV's. It was one of those only in the SEC moments.
6. Tickets by the handful were to be had outside the gates. And so were free posters once you crossed through the gates. The good people of Chesapeake Energy were giving out these "Ultimate Razorback" posters that shows a cartoon Hog player that has an arrow to the "Thighs - Darren McFadden, Running Back, 2005-07," the "Arm - Joe Ferguson, QB, 1969-72" and so forth. When the day was done, they could have added "Feel Good Story, Casey Dick, QB, 2005-08."
7. We've all heard about the rudeness of LSU fans and their in-your-face ways. A fan who accidently knocked over our bottle drinks and fizzed them up (no spillage) insisted we take eight dollars for the accident. We eventually relented after much protest. Are you expecting me to say this was an LSU fan? In fact, the gentleman was a Hog. My friend Shannon who sat amongst the Tigers with his father reported that they were rude and arrogant, but some did congratulate them after the game was over. But no way an LSU fan would have paid for our drinks, right?
8. Two touchdowns on the first two drives and both at my end of the field. The Hogs are going to roll today, right? I don't think there were too many poncho wearing Arkansas fans who believed that this initial outburst of Arkansas touchdowns would turn into a steady rain of scores. We all knew the history of the season. If the Hogs were to win, it would have to, by the law of this season, be on the final play of the opposing team coming up short.
9. Missing from the stands was the wave, fist fights (at least what I could tell in my area), and the beach ball. This was no ULM, so maybe we were all just a bit more focused.
10. In between the first and second quarters there was an on the field presentation to a former Arkansas baseball player who had won the Cy Young award. My first thought was shouldn't they have saved this for a baseball game? My second thought was what in the world was this former Hog doing wearing a burnt orange jacket to accept his award? Very odd sartorial choice there.
11. Was very impressed by our band's in-state recruiting efforts (we've built that fence apparently), for at half-time they mentioned each senior by name and most were from Arkansas. As a nice touch, they played the fight song together in the middle of the field with the other band members forming a circle around them.
12. Arkansas' "Special" teams were confounded by Trindon Holliday the entire game. I was confounded by my inability to come up with a good George Jefferson "The Jeffersons" reference put-down for LSU's QB Jordan Jefferson. The good news is that Holliday has only one more year left to scare the bejeezus out of us on kick-offs. The bad news is I think I'll have three more years to work on my Jefferson taunts.
13. My mother and I went into a hug one another, keep one eye open stance whenever Tejada kicked. We were both happy to change the tenor to the conversation associated with Mr. Tejada's name as of last Saturday. I imagine a mother and son Tiger fan duo in Baton Rouge tonight are saying some not too kind things about one Colt David.
14. My Dick Brother Conspiracy Theory - Might Nathan Dick exaggerated his thumb injury that he sustained just before the half to get his brother into the game? I like to think that he did. And to show that I hadn't forgotten about my own brother who watched the game at home with my father, I got him a free poster before I left the stadium. On giving it to him, he pointed out the free factor. I pointed out the "I didn't have to get it for you at all" factor, haha. All Arkansas fans who have brothers, ask yourself, would your brother exaggerate an injury to get you into your final game? Casey better get his brother something much nicer than a free poster!
15. The LSU player who kicked the ball out of frustration can probably tell you what Les Miles' shoe polish tastes like via rear entry. I was so thrilled to see another team do something so foolish. Just a feeling, but I think the personal foul penalty was not called as much on the Hogs this year as in the years of the Nutt era.
16. On Wednesday night I sat through the overwrought, Outback melodrama (should have read a review first) that is "Australia," the movie. After the Jarius Wright thing of beauty touchdown and some successive defensive stops for a change, I knew we were in for some more drama with the Drama Hogs of 2008.
17. Where were the turnovers? Wet ball, wet field, but no fumbles lost. The last time an LSU running back lost a fumble was in 2006 in Little Rock. But no repeat performance this year. Nathan Dick's turnover before the half seemed to have, thankfully, gotten the required Dick turnover out of the way for his brother.
18. I want the image of London Crawford catching Casey Dick's last pass as a Hog for a TD to burn itself nursing home deep into my memory. The thrill of sharing that happinesss with around 50,000 other people, all that positive energy, is something you just can't capture at home in front of the tv. It is a moment of feeling completely alive and in the present. Happy Happy Joy Joy!!!
19. But before the Hogs could firmly establish themselves as State Champions of Louisiana, they still had to survive a kickoff to the person that I described at the time as the bane of my existence, Trindon Holliday. And sure enough, there was LSU suddenly at the middle of the field.
20. Give the Symmetry Trophy and the Boot to the Hogs. A gutsy 4th down conversion propels the Hogs to victories against both ULM and LSU. And both ULM and LSU come up short on a final kick. Though I want to end future seasons with bowl and championship trophies, I'll take the Symmetry Trophy this year and a positive ending to the rebuilding year that we thought it might be.
21. Why stop at twenty-one? Casey Dick's and Nathan's jersey numbers combine for twenty-one just as they combined to give Arkansas its first and likely only brother quarterbacked victory, one that will live on in Razorback lore for its uniqueness as well as its storybook thrill of a finish. Casey and Nathan, welcome to your share of Hog immortality!(more at www.razorbackexpats.com)