BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — At this point, it looks as if the toughest team unbeaten LSU has faced this season is its second team in practice.
A 63-14 blowout of Idaho on Saturday, which helped the Tigers climb to No. 2 in the AP poll, served as the latest reminder that LSU's sideline is loaded with exceptional players waiting for their chance to shine.
Sophomore Ronald Martin needed one start to have what would be considered a career night for many fellow safeties across the country.
He had two interceptions, one of which he returned for a 45-yard touchdown. Both interceptions resulted from deflections by redshirt freshman Jalen Collins, who could have been starting at cornerback last year at some other schools, but is instead playing nickel back in his second season at LSU.
Then there is freshman cornerback Jalen Mills, who is only starting this season because of Tyrann Matheiu's dismissal in August. He made his second interception of the season on Saturday night.
So while there is youth in LSU's secondary, it hardly seems to be a liability.
"I see how hard they work in practice every day and they are learning to bring that to the game," junior safety Eric Reid said. "I can see them getting better and better. They are making big plays and the reason is they are getting their confidence as football players that can help this team win."
LSU coach Les Miles decided a home game against winless, six-touchdown underdog Idaho was as good a time as any to give Craig Loston's banged up body a night off in advance of next week's Southeastern Conference opener against Auburn. That was the only chance Martin needed to make himself a household name among LSU fans.
Indeed, all across LSU's lineup, there were examples of reserves making big plays.
Sophomore Anthony Johnson has been a regular reserve at defensive tackle, but got his first start against Idaho and was credited with five total tackles, including 1 1/2 tackles for losses. He was in on a tackle that stuffed Vandals running back Ryan Bass behind the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-1.
Then there are the veteran role guys who are playing just as well as the stars at their positions.
Lavar Edwards is at best the third-most talked about defensive end at LSU behind Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. Yet it was Edwards who tipped a pass to himself at the line of scrimmage, corralled the interception and willed his lumbering 260-pound body 23 yards for a touchdown.