“Touchdown” Terrace lives in the end zone

Photo by: Rebecca Warren / LSU Athletics)

If not for his unranked team’s confounding 1-2 start to an already exasperating season amid the coronavirus pandemic, LSU junior wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. could celebrate his accomplishments.

The substandard beginning to the 2020 campaign, on the heels of a CFP national championship, haven’t made it plausible for Marshall to trumpet his own personal highlights that include 21 catches for 424 yards and seven touchdowns.

“I’ll look at the stats later,” Marshall said. “I’m just continuing to be a leader in the locker room and just help make the biggest impact.”

While there’s no time for self-indulgence, Marshall’s teammates have certainly sung the praises of the Bossier City native who’s stepped into Ja’Marr Chase’s vacated spot as the team’s No. 1 wide receiver and flourished into one of the nation’s top targets.

“He works really hard,” LSU defensive tackle Glen Logan said of Marshall. “You always see him first in drills. When we do team reps, he always does them. He’s a good leader in that receiver (meeting) room. He’s dedicated. He’s here on weekends when I’m here and catching balls all the time. He puts in extra work after practice. He deserves everything he’s getting because he worked for it.”

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Marshall counts his health as the ultimate reason for being second in the Southeastern Conference in receiving yards per game (141.3) and tied for tops in touchdowns, a stat which ranks him second nationally.

Marshall was the nation’s top-rated wide receivers where he suffered a season-ending leg injury 1 ½ games into his senior year at Parkway High School.

During LSU’s offensive renaissance last season, Marshall had 16 catches – surpassing his entire freshman season – for 229 yards and six touchdowns when he foot injury sustained at Vanderbilt cost him four weeks.

“It feels great and all glory to God that I’m able to be healthy and continue to do what I love,” Marshall said. “I’m just praying to continue doing that I’m doing.”

Marshall parlayed a strong performance during LSU’s stretch drive to the national championship. He had 14 catches for 215 yards and four touchdowns in games against Georgia, Oklahoma and finally Clemson in the 42-25 national title game victory in which scored the Tigers’ final TD.

He had 46 catches for 671 yards and 13 TDs last season as LSU’s third receiving option behind Chase and eventual NFL first-round pick Justin Jefferson. But when Chase opted out of the this season four weeks before the start of the year to begin training for next year’s NFL draft, Marshall, elevated to the team’s top receiver.

His mental approach reflects his understanding of such responsibility.

“My mindset before every game is to go out there and kill,” he said. “Kill whoever’s out in front of me and whoever we’re playing against.”

Marshall has devoured the competition heading into this week’s unexpected open week, a bye that was prompted by a COVID-19 outbreak among Florida’s football team.

He has caught at least a touchdown in 11 of his last 16 games. including 12 TDs in his last six games with three in his latest record-breaking performance in a 45-41 loss to Missouri.

His 11-catch outing at Mizzou, tied for eighth on the school’s single-game, was part of a bittersweet afternoon. He had a career-best 235 yards – the fourth-highest in school history – and his three TDs marked the seventh multi-touchdown game of his career.

Marshall’s 75-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Myles Brennan was the longest scoring play of his career, a sequence that gave LSU a 38-31 lead at the 10:36 mark of the third quarter.

Fast-forward just over 15 minutes later and with LSU trailing 45-41, there wasn’t a lot of deception involved in how the Tigers nearly pulled out the game.

The combination of Brennan to Marshall produced four completions for 50 yards that included a first down at Missouri’s 1-yard line when the duo worked for a 13-yard catch with 44 seconds remaining.

He’s improving every day,” Marshall said of Brennan. “He’s been a better quarterback and a better reader. His potential’s high. I’m just ready to see him reach that. He’s a great QB and he’s been playing very well.”

After two running plays netted zero yards, LSU targeted Marshall twice to make a game-winning grab, but Brennan threw incomplete on his final two attempts – both of which were knocked away.

“That’s just the competitiveness in me,” said Marshall, who LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said repeatedly called for the ball on the team’s final drive. “I don’t really know how to control it when I’m in the game. Whenever I get in my zone, I’m just ready to eat.”

But the loss at Missouri left Marshall with an empty feeling.  LSU’s offense was left to contemplate losing a game in which it scored 41 points. The Tigers only rushed for 49 yards and didn’t convert any of their 10 third-down attempts.

However, what LSU has is a wide receiver that’s begun to distinguish himself as one of the best in the country and once Marshall’s through, could go down as one of the best in school history.

Given his current path Marshall could finish in the top three for catches, yards and touchdowns in a single season. With totals such as 79 catches, 1,287 yards and 20 TDs (he’s already tied for sixth in TDs with Early Doucet) he’s certainly to leave a legacy that could include the most touchdowns (26 by Dwayne Bowe) and also rank in the top 10 in catches and receiving yards. 

“Obviously, I’ve been doing good but I’m not going to get complacent,” Marshall said. “I’m going to keep going, keep elevating and I’m going to keep doing what I can to help contribute to the team.”

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