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ATVS Presents: Wednesday Walks Down Memory Lane: LSU - Alabama, 1997

Summer Programming Note: As the summer arrives, we're all trying to find ways to pass the time, so I'm working on a few ideas to get late August here quicker. For starters, we'll break down some of the older games from the last 20 years or so, with anecdotes, memories, what have you. Feel free to chime in in the comments.

With a special thanks to Youtube user rnolan53, who had highlights from the 80s through 2010 loaded on his profile, we're going to start this series with LSU vs. Alabama in 1997 -- also known as the final relevant season of the Gerry DiNardo era. This game was significant to me for a number of reasons, most significantly that it was my very first road trip to see the Tigers.

On to the memories:

  • The setting:
    • I was 15 years old in November of '97 -- just a sophomore in high school. The trip consisted of my dad, our friend Mervin and I, and after all the stories of my dad's trips with his friends I couldn't wait. Tried Dreamland Ribs for the first time in Tuscaloosa. The wait to eat at the place was something like an hour and a half, so we wound up getting take-out and eating in our hotel rooms. Still, they were the best ribs I've ever had.
    • Saturday was bitter cold with a biting wind, and dad forgot beer coozies (huggies, whatever you want to call them), so he and Mervin wound up making a trip to a local convenience store to pick some up, which meant drinking out of Crimson Tide coozies. That certainly never happened again. I was still a year away from being allowed a brew at the tailgate. We found parking at an apartment complex whose tenants decided to collectively rent out the spaces.
    • We spent most of the day talking to a group of Bama students who allowed use of their bathroom. Nice guys, who later helped us beat traffic with some backstreet directions. Nice guys.I've made this trip three more times since, and all trips were enjoyable.
  • The game itself:

    • A 27-0 shutout, paced by 168 yards and two touchdowns from Kevin Faulk and a six-tackle, two-sack game from Chuck Wiley. Bama was in tough straights in the first season of the Mike DuBose era, but the young players on this team would rebound over the next two years and win a somewhat shocking SEC title in '99.
    • Remember the Kessler-Whitten punting combo? Chad Kessler had a huge leg, and broke the national record with a 50-yard average, but he was awful at directional kicking, something baseball outfielder Jeremy Whitten was much better at. Together it was a huge field-position advantage, and you can see it at work here.
    • Don't be surprised if the 2011 Tiger offense looks similar to what you see here: a lot of I-formation, two tight-ends, with a run and play-action-based attack. Heavy on the inside zone, with some counter and sprint-draw mixed in. Granted, there's nobody on the '11 line in Alan Faneca's league, but as a unit they have the potential to be a big, dominant front. And I've said it before that Jordan Jefferson should be used in the same fashion as Herb Tyler.
    Any memories of your own from this one? Let's hear them...