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Catching benefits of hard work

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Before LSU's bye week, Jarvis Landry was struggling along just like all the other LSU receivers.

Since the bye, he's a different player.

In the last two games, Landry has 17 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns, remarkable numbers considered that in the first eight Tiger games, he had 23 receptions for just 219 yards.

Then came the bye and out of the other side emerged the receiver many thought Landry would be when he came out of Lutcher, La., High School in 2011 -- rated the No. 3 receiver in the country and the No. 37 player overall in the ESPN 150.

The sophomore made a tough catch on a back-shoulder fade for a touchdown against Alabama. In that game and during Saturday's 37-17 win over Mississippi State, he worked to consistently get open, something LSU receivers had struggled to do in the season's first eight games. He also made catches that were often tough, including one notably difficult, diving grab.

Landry has converted 10 first downs during the last two games, a sign that he's turned into a go-to guy when LSU needs a play to keep a drive alive.

"The coaching staff keeps giving me the opportunities," Landry said. "I can't say enough about them. They are trusting me and trusting (quarterback) Zach Mettenberger to make the plays."

The love fest is going in all directions.

After he put up career highs in catches (nine) and yards (107) against Mississippi State, LSU coach Les Miles said, "I think Jarvis Landry will have nights like this routinely."

Mettenberger, who has also seen his production spike since the bye with 571 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, said of Landry, "I think the hard work he's been putting in all season long is finally starting to come together."

What exactly is coming together for Landry? That's a little hard to extract from the players involved, who tend instead to spread praise around.

Is it a chemistry he has developed with Mettenberger?

"Really, I have good chemistry with all my receivers," Mettenberger said.

Landry, never one to boast, deflects the credit to the coaching staff for calling his number.

Watching film tells you something a little different. Coming out of the bye, Landry's routes seem more crisp. He's making the easy catch -- though he did have one drop -- and he's also sacrificing his body to make the tougher catches. He's running for tough, extra yards after the catch.

Starting with a first-down catch by Landry that set up the Tigers' first touchdown against Alabama, 10 of LSU's last 19 first-down passes have been to Landry.

It's a remarkable percentage, but Landry refuses to discuss himself as anything other than a part of the group.

"I think we all have (earned trust)," he said when asked what he's done to earn the extra looks. He beamed with satisfaction that the passing game is holding up its end of the deal.

"The receiving corps, we've been a strength in these last two weeks," he said. "I think our ability to catch the ball and get separation ... and really, all the credit also goes to Zach."

Quarterback and receiver are coy about it, but it's clear something special for Landry came out of their three days of practice during the bye week. If Mettenberger turned the corner as a quarterback, Landry, more than anybody else, turned the corner with him, side-by-side.

If anybody gave a clue to what might have led to his sudden emergence, it's Miles.

"Jarvis is easily one of the hardest-working players in practice on the team," Miles said. "You watch him (against Mississippi State), that is how he looks at practice each and every game.

"I think he will have more nights like this. If it was a career night, it was just because he was a young player."