Jamari Staples

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Louisville WR Jaylen Smith out for spring, and what Petrino wants Lamar Jackson to improve

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One of Louisville’s top returning wide receivers will be out for the spring. Jaylen Smith was one of two wide receivers ruled out for the spring by head coach Bobby Petrino on Monday.

Smith underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his foot. The timetable for his return to the team is unknown at this time, but it does not appear to be something Petrino is concerned about at this time with so much time before the start of the new season. It is not as though Smith had much to prove this spring anyway.

Smith caught 27 passes last season for 599 yards and six touchdowns. With seniors James Quick and Jamari Staples moving on, it is expected Smith will see a more significant role in the offense in 2017. The absence of Smith for the spring will leave room for other receivers to have some more passes thrown their way this spring, which is always a benefit to having a key player injured.

As for the man throwing those footballs to receivers, 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is not without some things to work on this spring either according to Petrino. One area Petrino wants Jackson to focus on is taking negative yardage. Jackson did run for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, so it is not as though things will not balance out in Louisville’s favor in 2017, but Jackson was limited to 33 rushing yards in two of his final three games against Houston and LSU. Houston sacked Jackson 11 times and LSU brought him down eight times in the Citrus Bowl.

Just think how dangerous Jackson will be if he does improve on what he did last season.

Lamar Jackson turns in another Heisman-worthy performance as Louisville drubs NC State

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Send Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson to New York now. Maybe get the nameplate for the Heisman Trophy ready too. Jackson continued to pad his Heisman profile with another stellar performance, this time against NC State (4-3, 1-1 ACC). Jackson and No. 7 Louisville (6-1, 4-1 ACC) blew out the Wolfpack, 54-13 Saturday afternoon.

Jackson wasted little time in having an impact on the game. On the fourth play of the game, Jackson ripped off a 36-yard touchdown to give Louisville a quick 7-0 lead. The Heisman frontrunner ended his day having completed 20-of-34 pass attempts for 355 yards and three touchdowns. Jackson also rushed for a score and 76 yards before getting an early rest in the second half. Jackson completed touchdown passes to Jaylen Smith, Jamari Staples and Cole Hikutini.

Louisville jumped all over NC State in the first half with a dominating start. The Cardinals led at halftime 44-0. The Cardinals had a little more than a 300-yard advantage in total offense over NC State at the half and that continued in the second half. Louisville was so dominant that even 12 penalties for 94 yards didn’t seem to bother them (although it surely is not to be overlooked). Louisville also had a pair of turnovers, but they also recovered three turnovers.

The Jackson Heisman Tour will take to the road the next couple of weeks. Louisville plays at Virginia next week and at Boston College the following week before returning home to wrap up its conference schedule against Wake Forest. It’s hard not to look ahead to the mid-November game at Houston, but Louisville will remain in the playoff hunt as long as Jackson keeps playing the way he has.

NC State will look to bounce back from back-to-back ACC losses next week when they host Boston College.