After three games during LSU’s quest for a national championship, the Tigers had already established themselves as a dominant offense. While Justin Jefferson was off to another red hot start, the glaring improvements in production weren’t just from Ja’Marr Chase.
It was Terrace Marshall. While Chase and Jefferson would go on to break program and SEC records, it was actually Marshall that looked like he was on pace for an historic season. Through those three games, Marshall hauled in 16 receptions for 229 yards and six touchdowns.
For comparisons, Chase had 10 receptions for 168 yards and one touchdown while Jefferson added 19 receptions for 387 yards and four touchdowns. It was Marshall’s redzone threat that made him a danger all season long. But the injury bug reared it’s ugly head for the sophomore.
A fractured foot suffered in a win over Vanderbilt knocked Marshall out for four weeks. The injury wasn’t the first or even a second for Marshall. As a senior in high school, a devastating leg injury forced him to miss the rest of his high school career and hindered his freshman campaign at LSU in 2018.
Marshall would return from the foot fracture in 2019 against Auburn and still put up some pretty fantastic numbers, finishing the season with 46 receptions for 671 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“He's a fighter,” junior safety JaCoby Stevens said after the win over Auburn. “Anybody who had those injuries could have gave up and made excuses not to play or do the things he's doing now. He keeps fighting back and making plays.”
“I was happy to see him out there getting his courage back, showing that he's ready again,” Chase added.
As the stats show, Marshall made the most out of his return from injury. For those who with struggle with math, nearly one out of every four receptions Marshall brought in went for a touchdown.
A fully healthy 2020 season combined with an increased volume of targets being the No. 2 option behind Chase, could see Marshall come close to the outstanding numbers he was on pace for in 2019.
With new passing game coordinator Scott Linehan in town, Marshall should continue to add to his repertoire in 2020. Linehan has some experience working with Hall of Fame worthy wide receivers like Calvin Johnson in Detroit and Randy Moss in Minnesota.
While you never want to compare Marshall with two all time greats, there is reason to believe Marshall can unlock another gear to his game with Linehan in the fold. Both Moss and Johnson has their most successful seasons statistics wise under Linehan.
They both played on the outside, as does Marshall and with a 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame, there’s no doubt Steve Ensminger and Myles Brennan will continue to look his way in the redzone.
“I challenged our offense last year with the goal of being No. 1 in the country,” Ensminger said on “LSU Sixty” two weeks ago. “I challenged this group to break every record we set last year. I don’t know if we can achieve it, but we’re going to go after it.”
His catch radius and ability to high point the ball are among the best in the country, displayed by his national championship clinching touchdown back in January.
The focus will be on the Biletnikoff winner Chase but Marshall figures to attract a fair bit of attention as well. If Brennan can make this offense truly a five weapon threat by utilizing players like Arik Gilbert and Racey McMath consistently, Marshall could ultimately wind up with favorable matchups.
A 1,000-yard, 10 touchdown season is within range for Marshall, whose 13 touchdowns a season ago were only topped by his teammates Chase and Jefferson for the single-season program record. His length, speed and overall talent should leave him in the first round conversation in the 2021 draft and a successful, healthy year should seal his status as a first round draft choice.