It’s safe to say that the losses to Houston, Kentucky (the one that I lost sleep about) and LSU were the driving motivators for all of the College Football experts to universally dismiss Lamar Jackson. Who am I to argue? No one, because I’m no expert. I’m an unapologetic fan of Louisville sports. I was born in Louisville and raised in Kentucky. So, I’ll admit, I’m biased. But I will also say that I am probably one of the more open-minded fans out there. I don’t blame the refs, even on a bad call. I don’t denigrate opposing fans (save for UK on occasion) for their team’s accomplishments or lack thereof.
With that said, I truly understood the lack of hype for my Cardinals. I saw the trouble the offensive line was having at the end of the year. I recognized that teams had figured out that the way to stop the eventual Heisman winner was to bring the farm. LSU, for example, brought so many defenders that the offensive line couldn’t adjust. This allowed two or three defenders into the backfield at any given time, keeping Lamar from working his magic. I also understood that our defense had holes and that opposing teams were starting to find those holes.
What I couldn’t understand was why these same experts, couldn’t see these things and completely wrote Lamar off. They are the experts. They are supposed to recognize these things.
What I quickly came to realize was that I missed an important aspect and mantra of today’s media. “What have you done lately?” This meant that because the people around Lamar were letting him down, he was letting the experts down as well.
Through the first two weeks of the season, Lamar has been Lamar. He has been Lamarvelous, as the color commentators dubbed him last year. He has 1010 total yards and 8 touchdowns. And as Yahoo.com Sports’ Pat Forde explains here, Lamar is a much better quarterback. He is no longer the super athlete that can throw the ball. He is a good quarterback with exceptional athletism. He is recognizing defenses, changing protections and adjusting reads at the line of scrimmage for his receivers.
Year over year passing:
- 2015 – 135 completions on 247 attempts. 54.7%
- 2016 – 230 completions on 409 attempts. 56.2%
- 2017 through two games – 55 completions on 85 attempts. 64.7%
Last season, Lamar had 1017 total tards. This year he sits at 1010. While those numbers are slightly down, the opposition is slightly better.
Tonight, 9/16/2017, when he faces off against the defending Champion Clemson Tigers, we will see just how much he has improved. With the vaunted Clemson defense going to Louisville for the fourth installment of the now annual nail-biting series, we will see another great matchup.
In my first edition of my Top 25 picks, I explained that I believe the game will be much like last year. Clemson will probably jump out on top. They will keep Lamar somewhat contained and Bryant will have some success on the edges. I also think that the lack of depth from Clemson’s front four will haunt them late in the game. Should Louisville use tempo and add-on snaps, they will tire. This, in my opinion, should give Lamar and a chance to use the play-action and get the corners on islands for some verticle success. But, as I said before, I’m no expert so I could be very wrong.
But, with all that said, I think that we should see another breakout performance from #8 and a solid win for the Cards. And with that win, we will indeed remember that Lamar IS all that… and more.