Some seasons don’t leave good memories.
Or, in the case of Curley Hallman, none of them did.
In hindsight, perhaps Joe Dean should have second guessed a lifelong Alabama fan that played college ball at Texas A&M before hiring him to the LSU job. Hallman rose to notoriety not just coaching Southern Miss to a 23-11 record over three seasons, but pulling off remarkable upsets against Florida State and Alabama. Hallman’s teams were known for being giant killers, which is a reputation he would carry to Baton Rouge, where he proceeded to attempt to kill off the football program.
Hallman also coached Brett Favre, which, to be honest, is pretty appealing to a QB-starved program like LSU. So can’t really blame the administration for that one.
Transition years are pretty difficult for any coach. Remaking a program in your own image typically invites the type of accessory nastiness you want to keep far far away from your program. Players transferring en masse. Rumors of infighting. Actual infighting. Questions about your tactics, your demeanor, your ability to relate. It all falls into this gnarly bucket of criticism and gives ammo to critics.
So here comes Curley Hallman to save the LSU football program with...
Chad Loup at QB?
The Greatest Game from 1991: Alabama
The Hallman era started... rough. LSU lost the season opener to Georgia by 3 TDs and then to Texas A&M by over 5 TDs. But don’t worry, they stopped the bleeding the next week... by narrowly beating Vanderbilt, 16-14, at home. Tiger Stadium remains fearsome, even to the Commodores.
Next up was Florida. Another loss. And then a couple wins over Arkansas State and Kentucky. Suddenly, LSU was .500. Maybe Curley was turning things around ahead of welcoming no. 1 Florida State to town. LSU put up a valiant 1st half but the Noles were simply too much and took control in the 2nd half. Four games remained and LSU needed to win three to simply get bowl eligible. Things started well with a victory over rival Ole Miss. Next, LSU welcomed no. 8 Alabama to town.
Bama had only one loss on the season, when they were crushed by Florida early in the season. It’s clear they were on a different level than LSU, but it was also an opportunity for Hallman to define his tenure at LSU and get the program headed in the right direction.
The game started as one would expect. Alabama forced a quick three and out and immediately returned LSU’s punt 90 yards for a Touchdown. LSU’s next drive lasted only four plays, before they punted again. This time the Tide converted for a FG. Halfway through the 1st and Bama held a 10-point lead.
After going three and out again, LSU punted again. This time, a couple of penalties derailed Bama’s drive and LSU managed to get a stop! The LSU offense took over from their own 36 and finally got something cooking. Loup found Todd Kinchen for completions of 20 and then 15 to put LSU on the board.
Bama quickly smacked down LSU’s tiny momentum swing, putting together a 10-play, 72 yard scoring drive of their own. On LSU’s next series, Loup threw an interception, giving Bama the window to blow the game wide open. Instead, Bama continued to shoot themselves in the foot with careless play and penalties. After putting themselves far behind the sticks, Roovelroe Swan closed the drive with a sack, forcing a Bama punt. LSU took over and after finding early success, made a mistake of their own, committing a monster face mask that derailed their drive, ultimately forcing a punt, giving Bama the ball back with just 1:29 to go in the half.
Bama made good on the opportunity, adding a FG to their lead heading into the half. 13 points seemed insurmountable for an impotent LSU offense.
LSU would prove game in the 2nd half. Despite taking possession first, Bama went nowhere on their opening drive and LSU quickly took over after a three and out. Hallman benched QB Chad Loup and inserted Sophomore QB Jesse Daigle. After handing off twice, Daigle completed his first pass to, who else, Todd Kinchen. Leo Abel followed it up with a nine-yard gain putting LSU into the redzone. LSU’s drive stalled after Bama tackled James Jacquet for loss, but the Tigers were able to get three points to cut the Bama lead to 10.
When Bama took over, LSU’s defense stood tough again, forcing another Bama punt. Suddenly, LSU had an opportunity to cut the game to a one possession lead. Daigle quickly threw a pair of incompletions and LSU punted after a three and out. But the LSU defense, full of fury, forced another three and out, keeping LSU alive.
LSU took over from their own 41, this time going to their ground game. Odell Beckham Sr., Germaine Williams, Abel and Jacquet carried the Tigers down the field, needing not a single pass from Daigle. Finally, on third and goal from the 7, Daigle dropped back to pass... and promptly threw an interception. LSU’s momentum looked deflated as Bama took over from their own 20. The Tide moved down the field, working their way into the LSU redzone. On 1st and 10 from the LSU 12, QB Jay Barker fumbled and LSU recovered, successfully holding off the Tide again.
Trailing by 10, LSU took over with 10:08 to go, desperately needing points to keep their chances alive. Hallman put the game into the unlikely hands of Seth Daigle. Daigle found Kinchen a couple times and then SE Scott Ray for a 20-yard gain to get LSU across midfield. Daigle then kept for himself for seven and then gave it to Beckham for another six to move to the 27. On 1st down, Daigle found Wesley Jacob for a 27-yard TD to cut Bama’s lead to just three. For the first time since the early 2nd quarter, LSU were in striking distance of taking the lead.
Alabama took over inside their own 20 with seven and a half minutes to go. After picking up seven yards on the ground and tacking on another five, Bama looked in business to ice the game. But a pair of short carries forced the team into 3rd and long, and into the hands of Jay Barker. He did a very Jay Barker thing and threw an interception. LSU ball at the Bama 45.
The drive started poorly. First, Jacquet lost a couple yards and then Daigle took a sack for another five yard loss. Now 3rd and 17, LSU desperately needed to pick up a sizable chunk of yards to even stand a chance of conversion on 4th. Where else would they turn but to Todd Kinchen? Daigle found Kinchen for 16 yards, now needing only a 4th and 1 to convert. The offense lined up and provoked Bama offside to get a fresh set of downs. Now at the Bama 31, Daigle called his own number, picking up 12. Daigle gave to Williams, who picked up a yard and then took to the air, looking for Kinchen again, this time incomplete. On 3rd and 9, LSU played conservatively, giving the ball to Jacquet, who picked up seven. It was now 4th and 2 from the Alabama 11. Hallman had a decision. Go for it and give yourself the opportunity to win the game. Play it safe and take the chip shot FG. Just under 3:00 remained in the game. Either way, this would likely be LSU’s final possession, and certainly the last one in quality field position.
Hallman opted to play for the points. He sent out Pedro Suarez for the game-tying FG. The FG unit lined up on the right, giving the right-footed Suarez a quality angle from just 28-yards out. Typically reliable, the tie seemed an inevitability. The snap was high and back to the right of Daigle, who expertly plucked it from the air and placed it down. Bama collapsed the left side of the line and LB Antonio London leapt and made the block. LSU’s chances were thwarted.
Bama took over with just over two and a half minutes to go, with LSU sitting on a pair of timeouts. On first down, LSU stuffed Alabama and the Tide followed it up with a penalty, pushing it to 2nd and 17. Barker called his own number and picked up 15, getting the Tide back to 3rd and short. LSU, ever valiant, held Bama to a one-yard carry and push it to 4th and 1. Bama called timeout and then lined up to go for it. On 4th and 1 Bama converted, giving themselves a new set of downs. On the next play, Bama gained a couple and forced LSU to use their final timeout. It would be enough to allow Bama to run out the rest of the clock and secure the victory.
L 27 - 16 vs. Florida State
W 25 - 22 @ Ole Miss
It’s hard to imagine this being the peak of the Hallman era, but it truly may have been. LSU, while completely outmatched, played valiantly and nearly stole an upset from the no. 8 overall team in the nation. The FSU game looks better in margin than the actual game. Beating Ole Miss was sweet, though they were weak in 1991 as well. Could a heart breaking loss to Bama really be the best game of the year? You betcha.
Greatest Game from 1991?
This poll is closed
Half of a good game against Florida St
Any win over Ole Miss is a good one, right?
Not completing an upset of Alabama (man, 1991 was rough)