BATON ROUGE, La. — Part of LSU's plan for Saturday night's football game against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga was to utilize the deep ball.
The Mocs (0-2) were hit with a bevy of big plays in the passing game, allowing completions of 48, 46, 46, 36 and 27 yards in their 45-10 loss at Tiger Stadium. In at least three of those cases, the Mocs were in perfect position to make the play, but because they couldn't instantly grow a few inches, LSU receivers were able to outjump them for catches.
D.J. Chark was the leading receiver for the Tigers (2-0) with 103 yards on only three catches, and 94 of those came on two plays. He hauled in a 46-yard completion down the right sideline in the second quarter with junior defensive back Markell Boston draped all over him. He also had a 48-yard reception on a pass down the middle in which Kareem Orr was in the right spot and made a play on the ball but was outjumped by Chark.
"That was the story of the game early on," UTC coach Tom Arth said. "I thought we were in position on a couple of them. We just need to trust ourselves a little more to make the play, go find the ball. There were a couple of opportunities for break-ups at least, or interceptions.
"I thought we had three shots to get some takeaways, but we didn't capitalize on them, didn't trust our technique the way we should, but we were in position to make plays and that's a real positive."
There was also a 46-yard completion to 6-foot-6 LSU receiver Stephen Sullivan in the first quarter, which led to the game's second touchdown. Sullivan outjumped 6-foot-1 UTC senior Trevor Wright for the ball.
Only on one occasion were the Mocs truly beat on the play — the game's first touchdown — and even that took some trickery to develop. Tigers quarterback Danny Etling, who had 227 yards on only eight completions, used a double-reverse fake, and the misdirection freed up Drake Davis, who had snuck behind the defense and was wide open for a 36-yard score.
"Sometimes we were in good position, (but) we just didn't make the play," safety Lucas Webb said. "Some of the time we were in a certain scheme and they caught us in the worst-case scenario."
"We just have to be better at executing the calls."
Although there won't be another team on the Mocs' schedule with the Tigers' level of talent, a good portion of this week will be spent fixing those mistakes.
The Mocs' next opponent, UT-Martin, is coming off a 45-23 loss to Ole Miss and has an explosive offense. The Skyhawks are led by preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference first-team selection Troy Cook at quarterback and running back Ladarius Galloway, who was OVC offensive player and newcomer of the week after an impressive 168-yard rushing performance against the Rebels.
The Mocs will be home at Finley Stadium for the first time this season after two tough games in two tough environments.
"It's been difficult, but it's all about the game," UTC linebacker Tae Davis said. "As a competitor, you have to keep fighting, doing what the coaches are telling you to do and try to execute them to the best of your abilities."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @genehenleytfp.