Billy recently attempted to catalog the most underrated seasons in LSU history, piggy-backing on our All-Time Team here at ATVS. It's a good list of seasons I remember fondly, but five of them were from this century and another three from the 1990's. The earliest season to make his list was 1981.
If the All-Time Team proved anything, the most underrated seasons are the ones further back in LSU's history, for obvious reasons. Those seasons are no longer in our collective memory, and tend to get reduced to numbers on a page. So, some of the ones we missed, organized by position.
1977 Charles Alexander. He averaged 153.3 yards/game. That was the LSU record by over 35 yards/game until last year, when Fournette went for 162.75. When you're closer to Fournette by a margin that is three times greater than anyone is to you... you had a historically great season. Alexander should be talked about in hushed tones in BR. He was better than Billy Cannon. He was better than Kevin Faulk. He was the greatest back in LSU history before Fournette showed up.
1976 Terry Robiskie. He gets overshadowed by Alexander, but his 1,117 yard season was the 1st 1000 yard season in LSU history. He also pulled the trick in 10 games.
1943 Steve van Buren. 6 games with 100 yards rushing. That was an LSU record until 1977, when Alexander broke it. It's still tied for 6th all-time. He was also the single-season rushing leader until Robiskie. That 1943 season, in context, is Fournette level great. He set a standard that wouldn't be matched for three decades, and that's included the trio of Taylor, Cannon, and Stovall.
1982 Alan Risher. A 63.7% completion percentage in the early 80s is obscenely great. He was 2nd in the nation in passer rating, and his adjusted yd/att was 1st in the SEC and 4th in the country. His 17 TD passes was a school record. Risher was awesome.
1908 Doc Fenton. The first great LSU player, he was the quarterback of the 1908 national championship team. The National Football Foundation awarded him a retroactive Heisman, which means nothing other than the fact we can be pretty sure he was a great player. He lead the nation in scoring, but other than that, the record is scant.
1965 Nelson Stokely. His 449 yards rushing in one yard away from being the school record (held by Jordan Jefferson, though he had three more games). It's the best rushing season for a QB in LSU history, and he also completed 64% of his passes. Never built off of his sophomore year, though.
1995 Sheddrick Wilson. Still ranks 10th in total catches in a season, but that got was pure nails. The catch against South Carolina in which he then had to be carried off the field because he was so injured is the toughest thing an LSU receiver has ever done.
1970 Andy Hamilton. 22.3 yards/catch. Still a school record. Suck it. If you count his bowl stats, his 1016 yards receiving is the first 1000 yard season in LSU history, which no one would match until the 1980s. He had five 100-yard games, tied for 5th all-time, and a mark that was not passed until, you guessed it, Wendell Davis. Oh, he still ranks 9th all-time in receiving yards among LSU players.
1977 Carlos Carson. His 10 receiving touchdowns in a season was a school record, and still stands as the 6th best mark in school history. Only one player in the 20th century, Wendell Davis (of course), topped his effort. He also had the first 200 yard receiving game in school history, against Rice.
1981 Malcom Scott. Arguably still the best statistical season by an LSU tight end. His 34 catch season is tied for the school record (among TE's) and his 433 yards ranks 2nd among tight end seasons.
1981 Lawrence Williams. 144 tackles. The amazing thing is that Al Richardson led the team with 150 tackles in the same season. That's arguably the best duo in LSU linebacking history. The 1981 defense was stacked. Richardson cast a long shadow, and caused us to forget some other great players.
1975 Kenny Bordelon. 21 tackles for a loss, which was a school record until Gabe Northern topped it by two in 1994. Still ranks second all time. Why can't we get after the quarterback like we could in the past? We've taken that for granted. John Adams had 16 TFL's in 1978, a mark that hasn't been matched in the past ten years by an LSU player (though Spears just misses the window with 17 in 2004).
1989 Oliver Lawrence. He had 12 sacks, still the LSU single-season record. We should talk about this more. There's 10 players tied for 10th on the LSU season-sacks list with 8, so there's 19 players in the top 10 seasons for sacks: only six have played in this century.
1981 Rydell Melancon. Three players have had 10 sacks in a season at LSU. Melancon was the first (and he made Billy's list). No one has done it since Gabe Northern in 1994. He's so underrated, the media guide misspells his name.
1978 Chris Williams. I'm convinced Williams is the single most underrated player in LSU history. His 8 interceptions are a single-season school record. We put him on the all-time team, but this bears repeating: he holds the LSU record for interceptions in a game, season, and a career. And I'll bet most of you don't know what he looks like.
1970 Craig Burns. Williams' interception mark is shared with Burns, who did it first, in an even less pass-happy era than Williams played in somehow.
1952 George Brancato & Charles Oakley. They each had six interceptions in 1950-freakin'-two, and I'm not even sure how that's possible. That's as many picks as Mo Claiborne had in his Thorpe-winning season. These guys did it back when quarterbacks averaged less than 10 attempts a game.
1978 Mike Conway. He went 14/15 on field goal attempts. Among players who average at least one kick a game, here's the full list of kickers with a better accuracy rate in a season:
David Browndyke. End of list.
1972 Juan Roca. He kicked the first 50-yard field goal in LSU history. Then he kicked a second one, just to be on the safe side. His 53-yarder against Rice is the second-longest in LSU history, and wasn't matched until 1985 by Ron Lewis (who went 54 yards).
1952 Al Doggett. Doggett punted the ball 81 f'n times that season, for an average of 38.9 yards/punt. His 3147 yards punted was an LSU record until Keehn finally broke the record in 2014.
1937 Pinky Rohm. On 35 returns, he gained 539 yards. That's a school record (Domanick Davis is 2nd at 499 on 36 returns). He also scored 3 return touchdowns, which is still a school record. Pinky Rohm was a badass.
1975 Robert Dow. 598 yards returning on 23 returns was a school record until 1999, when Davis went for 618 on 25 returns.
Even this list gives short shrift to pre-1970 players (and linemen), but that's when record-keeping gets notoriously sketchy. Heck, the ‘70s and ‘80s don't have all that reliable of a statistical record either. But it is a lesson, the further a player recedes from our collective memory, the more likely he gets reduced to his statistical line.