Wednesday Walks Down Memory Lane: LSU - Arkansas, 1999

 

Skip ahead two weeks in 1999 and the axe had fallen on Gerry DiNardo following a 20-7 loss to Houston. Offensive line coach Hal Hunter was named interim head coach for the season finale against 17th-ranked Arkansas. What followed shocked just about every fan in Tiger Stadium, and began to set the table for a Golden Age of LSU football in the next century. As always, thanks again to rnolan53 for the vids.

 

 

On to the memories:

  • The setting:

    • I wish I could remember why, and I really wish I could say the 8-game losing streak had nothing to do with my missing this game, but I watched this one from home. Let's say I was studying for a test. Fun fact: my first choice to replace DiNardo at this time would have been Mark Richt, who was coordinating No. 1 Florida State (the eventual national champs) at the time.

    • Man was the perception of Houston Nutt a whole lot different 10 years ago. He yielded quick results in Fayetteville, and had just led the Razorbacks to an upset of defending national champion Tennessee earlier in the year. Given that LSU had only scored seven points on Houston a week earlier, Arkansas was a prohibitive favorite.
  • The game itself:

    • The kudos for Hal Hunter were obvious here. He immediately ceded to his team leadership with how to handle this final game, and that resulted in a benching for Josh Booty in favor of Rohan Davey. Hunter's proven to be a heck of an offensive line coach, he would bounce around to Indiana and North Carolina, but has since found a home with the San Diego Chargers for the last five seasons.

    • History has largely forgotten Jerel Myers, but he set an SEC record for catches (64) and yards (854) for a freshman this season. Which just goes to show you that even on a bad offense somebody has to catch the ball. The record's been broken a couple of times over since.

    • The play at about 2:48 should look familiar -- the zone-toss play that Stevan Ridley was so effective on last season. It's a shorter toss play than the average toss-sweep, designed to let the back choose an inside or an outside cut. And on those two plays you can see a back go inside and then out. Maybe this season we'll see Spencer Ware make a few bigger plays with it

    • Davey's stat line on the day: 10 for 12 for 224 yards and three touchdowns. I haven't seen a list but that has to be one of the 10 best pass efficiency performances in school history. Of course he would later tear his ACL that spring in a pickup basketball game, which kept Ro from truly locking down the starting gig for the 2000 season.

    • After the long touchdown pass to Rondell Mealey, you see a collective look of "okay, they've won can we all go home now?" from the Arkansas defense.

    • This game was also the high-water mark for the career of Reggie Robinson more or less -- 154 yards and two touchdowns on just five catches. Injuries always seem to slow the guy down, but early on I was sure he was a good quarterback away from being a superstar.

    • Maybe it's just a cosmetic thing, but games like this show the value in a season-ending win for a fan base. Hitting the offseason with a good taste in your mouth is a positive, and I think we've seen that the last few years as well. We all knew LSU was a bad team in '99, but after this game it at least felt like there was enough talent on hand to be better. Of course, nobody had any idea how the search for DiNardo's replacement would turn out.


      As always, your thoughts and memories are welcome and encouraged in the comments.
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