A trend has emerged with DJ Chark.
Twice this season, the LSU senior wide receiver made a crucial mistake to start a game.
The first mistake was a first-quarter fumble against Auburn, after which Chark made several big plays in LSU's big upset. The second mistake came in Saturday's 33-10 win over Arkansas in Tiger Stadium, when Chark muffed a punt on his first touch.
Chark was fortunate to beat the Razorbacks to the loose ball Saturday and save the Tigers from a costly error. He was not as lucky against Auburn, and it contributed to an early deficit.
But that isn’t what stood out most about Chark’s performance in those games.
John Battle noticed.
By the end, no one cared about his failures. They remembered his success instead.
Chark reeled in a combined nine passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns — the best set of numbers he has produced in any two games of his career.
His five catches for 150 yards against Auburn were both career highs. On Saturday, he scored twice against the Hogs — the first time he has reached the end zone more than once in a single game.
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Saturday's two touchdowns were also Chark's first receiving scores of the season. He entered the game with two touchdowns on punt returns and and another touchdown rushing.
“You’re going to make mistakes,” Chark said. “But you can’t let those things get you down. I’m just very avid on making plays throughout the whole game. It’s a 60-minute game, so I’m just blessed to get another opportunity after I mess up. No one wants to mess up, but if you do, you have to shake it off and worry about it after the game.”
Chark couldn’t put his finger on why the mistakes triggered in him career performances.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron called it maturity and focus.
Sophomore receiver Stephen Sullivan said all the LSU wideouts try to put mistakes behind them as quickly as possible.
Tight end Foster Moreau said Chark's big rebound is an example of plain old mental toughness.
“The guy is just a fighter,” Moreau said. “He tries to make up for lost ground. I’m glad he recovered the fumble. He’s a fighter. He’s a warrior out there. Every time he’s on you like, ‘You ready to go? You ready to go?’ And I think he was ready to go tonight.”
What Alabama hangover?
Quarterback Danny Etling was not available for interviews Saturday, but following the Auburn game said early mistakes don’t bother him and that he’ll always have the confidence to go back to Chark.
Etling needed that confidence this week after he and Chark failed to connect on several deep balls against Alabama the week before.
Etling's throws weren’t perfect, but Chark also took responsibility for the misconnects.
On Saturday, however, Chark and Etling connected for four complete passes out of five total targets, including touchdowns of 45 and 68 yards.
“I’m so glad,” Orgeron said of Chark finally getting into the end zone. “You know, last year, he thought about going out (into the NFL draft), and I’m so glad he stayed.”