I'm still a little red in the face after showing up an hour early to snag a seat on the 35-yard-line of the visitors' side for the Red/White game. Mercifully, the sun set behind the stadium midway through the second quarter, but not before I stripped off my sweatshirt and started seriously worrying about the pale toddler in the cheerleader's outfit a row or two in front of me. Her kneecaps were lobster-colored. Razorback red.
Razorfest got the family units out in droves, and most stuck around to get a peek at the 2008 Hogs. Even the tykes could tell the difference between Nutt's land-bound offense and Petrino's high-flying action. Casey Dick and the rest of our starting offense chalked up more yardage in more ways during the first half than we saw out of David Lee's line-in-the-dirt “patterns” all last season. Of course, I'd say the Red team outweighed the White team by roughly the equivalent of a small mass-transit vehicle in raw tonnage.
(We have to come up with better names for the opposing sides. A friend suggested “the Studs and the Duds,” but I'm not sure that sends the right message. A tendency to fumble the ball won't keep Brandon Barnett from kicking my teeth in. “I've got your three points of contact right here.”)
Casey Dick indeed looked better, and he threw well on the run, though he tended to hold the ball longer than any SEC defense is going to allow. One time I actually saw him step up into the pocket. London Crawford and Brandon Barnett have cement blocks for hands, which will only give us fits when Barnett's not pounding holes where they weren't and Crawford's not pulling in one-hand circus catches in the end zone. Everything everyone's already told you about D.J. Williams is absolutely true, but maybe they haven't mentioned that Petrino showed off a number of two-end formations that will be our bread and butter once Ben Cleveland reaches 100 percent.
Getting thrown under the bus for a simple misunderstanding last season doesn't seem to have put the brakes on Michael Smith. He's very slippery and has all the gas he needs to slice up opponents that our passing game has spread too thin. (Natch.) I'm not sure why our post-McFadden backfield recruiting focused on guys under 5-foot-8, but at least they all have wheels.
Honestly, our defense was spotty, but I'm not inclined to expect Big East-style ineffectiveness. The secondary just has to relearn their positions; Herring's rope-a-dope man coverage was simpler on the face of it. We've got the quick line in place to pressure the quarterback — whether we can bring him down when we get our hands on him is another thing.
All told, it was great to get an off-seasonal dose of the gridiron, like Christmas in July, but what I really miss about football season is the drunken louts who stumble up the bleachers, sway precariously over the heads of seated children, and plop down right beside me before proceeding to curse a blue streak about shit that has nothing to do with the game being played.
Lucky me, one of these winners showed up early in the first quarter after presumably drinking all day in the hot sun. I spent half the game wondering if the “boy” he loudly considered taking a swing at was me and trying not to make eye contact. Not that I don't think I could've taken him — especially since he was soused and weighed maybe a buck 20 (Reggie Fish would've thrown him back) — but I'd rather not traumatize young Hog fans at what might have been their first Razorback experience. Jail would have sucked, too.
You stay classy, buddy.
PS: So McFadden's going be clad in black and silver come fall. Meh. Expect the most annoying assemblage of Mad Max refugees in the country to start setting up strongholds in your community. I'm almost as excited about seeing Peyton Hillis play for the Broncos. What a steal.