BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Anthony Jennings to Travin Dural. Get used to it.
The combination produced three first-half touchdowns — including a 94-yarder on LSU’s first offensive play — and the 12th-ranked Tigers overwhelmed Sam Houston State 56-0 on Saturday night.
“We have a lot of chemistry,” Dural said. “He knows how I run my routes and I know how he throws the ball. So all that extra work we’ve put in is showing.”
Highly-hyped freshman running back Leonard Fournette also got into the act with his first long run, a 40-yarder that set up his first TD on a 4-yard run. But LSU coach Les Miles appeared miffed that Fournette chose to punctuate his maiden scoring run with a Heisman Trophy-like pose. So that celebration may be a thing of the past, even if Fournette is only starting to showcase his potential as a ball carrier.
“It is a little premature to launch a Heisman candidacy,” Miles said. “He needs to realize, too, that this is a team.
“There were a lot of guys blocking for that run,” Miles added. “We will make that point to him. He’s fine. I would much rather have an enthusiastic well-felt guy with energy that maybe is a little full of himself, but that is not all bad, either.”
Offensive lineman Evan Washington appreciated Miles’ sentiment, but wasn’t that bothered by Fournette’s enthusiasm, either.
“I’m not mad at him for doing it if he thinks he has the talent to do it. I think he has the talent to do it,” Washington said. “He got caught up in his first touchdown and his emotions probably got the best of him.”
If anyone on LSU’s offense was going to strike such a pose, it probably should have been Dural, who scored on all three of his receptions, which totaled 140 yards. His second and third touchdown receptions went for 28 and 18 yards, helping LSU (2-0) build a 35-0 halftime lead over the Bearkats (1-2) of the second-tier Football Championship Subdivision.
“It was our boys against their men,” Sam Houston State coach K.C. Keeler said, adding that he was pleased his team still played hard even when it would have been easy to check out mentally.
“I mean, you’re embarrassed. It’s 30-plus to nothing and you’re getting handled on national television,” Keeler said.
Dural, who had two TDs all of last season as a redshirt freshman, already has twice as many through the first two games of 2014.
A week earlier, Dural highlighted a three-catch, 151-yard outing against Wisconsin with an 80-yard TD from Jennings.
“Just putting the ball up there, knowing he’s going to come down with it is a great confidence boost for me,” Jennings said. Jennings attempted only 13 passes against Sam Houston, completing seven for 188 yards without an interception.
Jennings’ confidence in Dural can be traced back to the 2013 regular season finale against Arkansas, when Jennings was forced into action by an injury to Zach Mettenberger. Jennings, then a freshman, led the Tigers to a late comeback victory by finding Dural for a 49-yard score.
Their chemistry has only grown since, and is a reason Jennings has distinguished himself as the Tigers’ No. 1 quarterback over freshman Brandon Harris, who appears to have a stronger arm and be more of a threat running out of the read-option.
Harris demonstrated his prowess as a runner when he temporarily replaced Jennings in the second quarter, spinning away from tacklers during a 46-yard touchdown run. Harris returned in the second half and registered his first completion — a 22-yarder to John Diarse — followed by his first touchdown pass on a fade to fellow freshman Malachi Dupre.
LSU improved to 10-0 against FCS foes. But Miles had cautioned his players not to look past a Bearkats squad that came in averaging 613.5 yards and 43 points through its first two games.
Apparently, the Tigers took Miles’ warning to heart. The Bearkats hadn’t been held scoreless in a single quarter before being blanked by LSU, which registered seven sacks and produced three turnovers.
LSU outgained Sam Houston 584 yards to 206.
Freshman running back Darrel Williams added a short touchdown for LSU, as did running back Kenny Hilliard.
Sam Houston’s Jared Johnson completed only 8 of 25 passes for 142 yards and threw two interceptions, the second one picked off at the LSU 2 by Rickey Jefferson, younger brother for former Tigers QB Jordan Jefferson.
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