When he signed with LSU as a schoolboy wonder four years ago, Russell Shepard was expected to have far more highs than lows.
More nights like this one.
Shepard exploited the Idaho defense in a number of ways Saturday night in a 63-14 romp, catching three passes for 68 yards and rushing three times for 24 yards.
That’s 92 total yards on six touches. That’s 15.3 yards per touch.
“He’s so versatile,” junior receiver Kadron Boone said. “He’s a pivotal part of the offense.”
Shepard showed Saturday he could be just that, using his speed and elusiveness to create big plays.
But the 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior has had other nights when he failed to match the hype he generated coming out of Cypress Ridge High School in Houston.
A week earlier, for instance, LSU’s receivers had five drops.
Perhaps the most memorable came when Shepard couldn’t corral a Zach Mettenberger strike in the second quarter. Shepard was sliding across the turf in the Washington end zone when the would-be touchdown pass eluded him.
Shepard wasted little time redeeming himself as he got the start Saturday in place of James Wright, who dressed for the Tigers but did not play because of a shoulder injury.
“Zach is going to do his job and get the ball to us,” Shepard said. “The offensive line is going to do its job.
“I’ve just got to come out and just make plays.”
Shepard had an early drop Saturday, but put the mistake aside and ripped off an 18-yard run and caught a pass for 33 yards.
By halftime, he had already exceeded his previous career high of 53 receiving yards.
LSU coach Les Miles said Shepard’s role wasn’t entirely a reflection of Wright’s absence. He said he wants to see more of the versatile Shepard.
“Russell Shepard has some ability that we’d like to see in virtually every game,” Miles said.
As for the up-and-down career, Shepard said it’s about more than on-field statistics.
It’s about relationships. It’s about the experience.
“My outlook on my career here is not what the opinion of the media or the fans say,” Shepard said. “I’ve enjoyed it. People want to see you go out there and make huge plays game in and game out, but it’s about my individual experience.
“This program has been so good to me and my family, and I really love it.”
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