LSU is playing its 2020 season without a trio that rewrote its record books in their final college season, but the most notable holdovers look poised to challenge them.
Through two games, Terrace Marshall has 10 catches for 189 yards from the arm of new starter Myles Brennan -- but more notable are the four touchdown passes he's logged in those opportunities.
This ball probably should’ve been intercepted. Instead it’s Terrace Marshall’s 3rd TD of the season.— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) October 4, 2020
He’s got 67 catches in his #LSU career. 15 of those have been touchdowns. pic.twitter.com/IknpWshBqn
Marshall only caught two of his four targets in LSU's blowout of Vanderbilt, but both went for touchdowns. The first a strong grab inside two defenders for 16 yards early in the second quarter, then a 51-yard catch-and-run score 4 minutes before halftime. That long pass came shortly after Vanderbilt's lone score of the night.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — John Emery veered left. The edge was free. Untouched after 12 yards, the LSU running back high-stepped in the back of the V…
"That's a guy that him and I have been -- along with the rest of the receivers -- have been working really hard this offseason," Brennan said after the game. "And it's nice to go out there and trust those guys to make the plays as they are doing."
Here's how Marshall's start stacks up with former teammates Ja'Marr Chase, who opted out for his junior season due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, and Justin Jefferson, now a wide receiver with the Minnesota Vikings.
MARSHALL FIRST TWO GAMES 2020
- Catches: 10
- Yards: 189
- TDs: 4
JEFFERSON FIRST TWO GAMES 2019
- Catches: 14
- Yards: 250
- TDs: 4
CHASE FIRST TWO GAMES 2019
- Catches: 10
- Yards: 168
- TDs: 1
It was Chase who would eventually go on to finish with the school record with 20 touchdown passes, with Jefferson shortly behind with 18 of his own. Jefferson left for the NFL with a school record for catches in a single season at 111, the only LSU receiver to ever break the 100-yard mark.
But Marshall joined that group with 13 touchdown passes of his own, good for No. 3 on the school's list just ahead of Dwayne Bowe, who held the school record at 12 since the 2006 season. In all, he's caught touchdown passes on nearly a quarter of his catches (16 of 68) in his 23 games at LSU.
Despite a 1-1 start, LSU's passing attack has been rolling up yardage and touchdowns -- with teammate Jontre Kirklin adding two touchdowns of his against Vanderbilt and Brennan tossing seven total through two weeks.
Myles Brennan released decisive throws and climbed in the pocket against Vanderbilt, clearly improving the two areas coach Ed Orgeron wanted Brennan to work on after LSU’s season-opening loss to Mississippi State.
But while Marshall and Brennan are one a pace that could challenge school and conference records, they'll be at a slight disadvantage due to the pandemic that has limited LSU's schedule to just a 10-game lineup, all against SEC opponents. With an appearance in the SEC and College Football Championship title game again this season, the most games this year's LSU team could possibly play is 13. The 2019 Tigers had 15 games to roll up their marks.
It's unlikely Brennan puts up scoring figures to truly challenge Burrow's otherworldly 60 touchdown passes in his Heisman Trophy-winning title season, but he's well on his way to No. 2 on LSU's single-season list. That spot is currently held by Matt Mauck and JaMarcus Russell at 28.
And while Marshall is off to a hotter start than Chase, that changed quickly for the eventual Fred Biletnikoff Award winner. His first blowup performance came in this third game of the 2019 season, also against Vanderbilt, with four touchdowns and 228 yards in that game alone.
He went on to catch two or more touchdown passes in five more games, the final two scores coming in the championship victory over Clemson in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.