NOTEBOOK: Randall has biggest day of his career

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Marcus Randall completed just one pass for negative-one yards in the Tigers 26-10 win over Alabama.

When there was an abundance of folks murmuring about erratic and inconsistent quarterback play by Tiger signal callers, Randall turned in the most impressive performance of the season by any LSU quarterback – as well as the most brilliant of his career in a Tiger uniform.


Randall, who got the nod over JaMarcus Russell, completed 10-of-14 passes for 173 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to Joseph Addai. He also rushed 17 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns, however, he actually rushed for 131 yards, but lost 52 on four sacks.


"My hat goes off to Marcus and the way he performed out here today," said senior defensive end Marcus Spears. "He never took a selfish attitude about anything. He just went out and played the game the way it is supposed to be played.


Saban's philosophy this season had been to start Russell and bring Randall off the bench. Saban said with Randall not starting the game, it cuts down on his anxiety level. But in this one, Randal showed no signs of tension.


"You prepare better when you know you're the starter early in the week," Randall said. "We prepared well all week, so I don't think there was any anxiety. We were comfortable with the things coach (Jimbo) Fisher had put in for us to run and I felt comfortable and had confidence coming into the game. I feel like I played well."


You could sense Randall was on target from the onset threading the needle on several passes. But it was the senior signal caller's mobility that proved to be the biggest difference in the game as he executed one successful quarterback draw after another.


"I feel comfortable running the ball and we have several plays designed for me to run the ball," Randall said. "Whenever I felt like I could get positive yardage I would tuck it and get as many yards as I could."


Where does this rank in the top games of Randall's career?


Most folks would say this is the best. In 2002, Randall started in place of an injured Matt Mauck leading the Tigers to a 38-14 win over South Carolina.


Then there was the first Arkansas game in which Randall played, "The Miracle on Markham," as Hawg fans call it. Randall had the Tigers poised for a 20-14 victory before the final Hail Mary from Matt Jones gave the Razorbacks a come-from-behind win.

Randall's play in the first half of the 2003 Cotton Bowl, a 35-20 loss to Texas, was superb. But that game will be remembered mostly for LSU's demise in the second half.


This season, the feather in Randall's cap before last Friday had to be his stunning performance in relief of Russell at Florida, a game in which he rallied the Tigers from a 21-7 deficit to win 24-21 in The Swamp.


While the Florida win was a tremendous victory in terms of the setting, Randall's ability to lead the Tigers in breaking the Razorbacks long winning streak ranks at the top of the list.


"This was a big game for us," Randall said. "Coach kept talking to us about the last time we were here and how they kept us from going to the championship game. Plus the fact they were 17-0 here. We knew coming in here that they weren't going to give up."


Saban said he stuck with Randall because of the success he enjoyed at Arkansas during the loss in 2002.


"We really played him, because he played well here two years ago," Saban said of Randall, who was the quarterback in that 21-20 loss to the Razorbacks. "We just thought we'd take a little pressure off (freshman quarterback) JaMarcus (Russell) by not making him start on the road. We would've played him if we had struggled, but Marcus Randall did such a good job in the game and had such control of what was going on in the game, we didn't feel like it was the right time to change anything."





It is something Robert Stack and Unsolved Mysteries should do a story on - what is it with LSU and place kickers?


While the Tigers produced one of college football's most consistent kickers of all time in David Browndyke, the past decade has been one crazy roller coaster ride for kickers in TigerTown.


Wade Richey, John Corbello, Chris Jackson – all talented high school kickers that had more than their fair share of travails during their careers a LSU. Richey went on to have a semi-successful NFL career and Corbello ended his career in purple and gold as the Tigers all-time leading kick scorer and third on the school's all-time scoring list. Danny Boyd, who succeeded Richey in 1998, starred in NFL Europe and in the NFL once his days at LSU were done, but no one will soon forget his inconsistencies when he stepped onto the field in Tiger Stadium.


It has been a bumpy road for Tiger kickers Jackson and Ryan Gaudet. Gaudet kicked a 49-yard field goal in the LSU-Georgia game that proved to be the insurance the Tigers needed in winning 17-10. But then he missed an EXTRA POINT in the Auburn game earlier this season that cost LSU the victory in losing 10-9.


Jackson has one of the more powerful legs ever to be swung in the direction of a football at LSU, but sometimes you do not know exactly where it is going. Jackson can drill a field goal, but then manage to somehow to boot the kickoff out of bounds.


The way Nick Saban chooses to handle LSU's kicking situation is to stick with which ever kicker tends to be the hottest at the time or use Gaudet on shorter field goal attempts due to his accuracy; then replace him with Jackson on kickoffs or long field goal attempts.


Speaking of long field goals, Jackson has dazzled crowds with his long range hitting 50-plus yard field goals in consecutive games. In the win over Ole Miss, Jackson drilled a 51-yarder, then came on and kicked a 53-yard field goal at Arkansas, which is the third longest in school history.


"I had a good pregame and the wind was in my direction so I felt pretty good about kicking it. I hit it pretty well," Jackson said.


Jackson's monumental boot was just one yard short of the record, which is 54 yards. Richey and Ron Lewis each kicked 54 yarders, Richey's coming at Kentucky in 1996 and Lewis' against North Carolina in 1985.


Jackson's 51-yard boot against Ole Miss ranks fourth all-time, tied with Andre LaFleur, Pedro Suarez and Juan Carlos Betanzos. Jackson is the only kicker to have to field goals in the top five longest in LSU history.



It was the first time a team won back-to-back games in the LSU-Arkansas series since LSU took consecutive victories in 1995 (28-0) and 1996 (17-7)… LSU missed an extra point for the fifth game this season. Ryan Gaudet missed the extra point after Shyrone Carey's fourth quarter score. LSU kickers are 28-of-34 this season on PAT attempts with Gaudet having missed two extra points and Jackson missing four… For the fifth time in the Tigers current six-game winning streak, LSU has shutout its opponent in the second half… The Tigers six-game winning streak ties the second longest winning streak under Nick Saban. LSU closed out the 2001 season winning six in a row and after a season opening loss at Virginia Tech, the Tigers won six in a row.

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