Malachi Dupre has become friends with Tiger Stadium’s north end zone.
It took a few weeks for the gold-painted grass to grow on the freshman wide receiver, though.
When Dupre caught a 27-yard strike from rookie quarterback Brandon Harris with 3:59 remaining in the second quarter against New Mexico State on Saturday night, it reminded the sparse Death Valley crowd of last weekend’s near comeback.
It was the same situation a week ago against Mississippi State: While trailing with 1:55 remaining against the Bulldogs, Harris found Dupre near the front left pylon for a 31-yard score. Twenty-eight seconds later, the rookie duo connected again in the same spot in the end zone, this time for 30 yards.
The former five-star wide receiver recruit, who was heralded as the top wideout prospect in the nation by Rivals.com, didn’t have the season debut he was likely expecting back on Aug. 30 against Wisconsin.
A New Orleans native, Dupre was expected to be an early contributor on the Tigers’ young receiving corps.
Dupre spent the week leading up to the Tigers’ opener battling injuries and steadily sliding down the depth chart. He’d miss what would have been his first time dressing out in purple and gold. He never made the trip to Houston.
He didn’t make his LSU debut until the second half against Sam Houston State in week two, where he made two receptions for 23 yards and his first career touchdown.
The rookie receiver didn’t have a reception the following week against the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
Then everything changed in the Tigers’ 34-29 loss to MSU.
“(Dupre’s) confidence is through the roof now,” said sophomore receiver Travin Dural. “He wasn’t talkative (at the beginning of the season). We room together, and he woke up this morning full of energy. I can tell that his confidence is growing every day.”
The Harris-Dupre connection was born, and it only grew against the Aggies on Saturday night after the rookies hooked up three times for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Their chemistry began in California during the offseason, and the final product has shown over the past two weeks.
“We worked out a lot, and I think the chemistry between all of our receivers is important,” Harris said. “We step up in practice and throw all the time. You can’t go out there and just dream stuff up. You have to be on the same page.”
LSU’s offense began to resemble the fantasy Tigers fans began to piece in their minds back on signing day.
The formula had four components: Harris at quarterback, Leonard Fournette at running back and Dupre and Trey Quinn lined up at wide receiver.
So when the collective group was put in a position to make an impact early against New Mexico State University, the puzzle came together in grand fashion.
The Tigers’ offense was in need of a spark after a poor first-quarter performance by sophomore quarterback Anthony Jennings.
Fournette was the first to ignite a crowd whose only audible words through the first 20 minutes of play were a string of boos.
After Harris entered the contest with 9:28 remaining in the second quarter, Fournette became the focal point of the Tigers’ offensive attack, receiving four consecutive handoffs for 27 yards. Fournette capped off LSU’s possession with three straight carries, including a 17-yard touchdown scamper.
Almost five minutes later, Fournette struck again, this time from 5 yards away for his second score of the game.
LSU put up 14 points in the first quarter – one score via an interception return by sophomore linebacker Kendell Beckwith.
When both squads entered the locker room at halftime, the Tigers’ new-look offense had a commanding 42-7 lead.
Dupre failed to catch a pass in the second half, but his damage was already dealt.
Fournette’s dominance continued in the second half as he collected his first career 100-yard rushing game, finishing with 18 carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry against the Aggies.
It was the contest LSU’s freshmen needed before heading to Auburn next weekend.
“I believe I’m getting better,” Fournette said. “I’m not going to say I’m where I want to be. I was talking to Kenny (Hilliard) and Terrence (Magee). I’m going to get better. They’ve been helping me out every game. Everything is coming together.”