If you were wondering how long it would take for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner to storm back to the Heisman Trophy discussion in 2017, the answer was two games.
After a close call in Indianapolis a week ago against Purdue, Lamar Jackson accounted for six touchdowns to help No. 17 Louisville (2-0, 1-0 ACC) pull away for a road win against North Carolina (0-2, 0-1 ACC). The Cardinals and Tar Heels went back and forth for much of the afternoon, but a 20-7 fourth quarter saw the Cardinals pulls away for the 47-35 victory.
Jackson passed for 393 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He also finished the day with 132 rushing yards and three more touchdowns. While he had some questionable moments, Jackson proved once again that when he is at his best, he is incredibly good.
UNC switched quarterbacks in the second half, moving on from Chazz Surratt in the first half to LSU transfer Brandon Harris in the second. Surratt played well in the first half, completing 12 of 14 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns, but a possible ankle injury left him on the sideline after halftime. Haris had a fine afternoon with 216 passing yards and a touchdown. UNC receiver Austin Proehl‘s eight catches for 120 yards was impressive, but Louisville receiver Jaylen Smith led all players with 183 receiving yards, including a 75-yard bomb from Jackson.
Louisville will finally get to play a home game next week, and it will be a big one. The Cardinals welcome Clemson to town in a big time ACC Atlantic Division matchup. Clemson took last year’s meeting en route to the ACC and national championship, although Jackson piled up big numbers against the Tigers.
UNC will be on the road next week to play at Old Dominion of Conference USA.
Looking to shrug off any rust shown last week in Indianapolis against Purdue (who looked darn good last night, by the way), the Louisville Cardinals are once again on the road to take on another basketball-first school. So far, after one half of play in Chapel Hill against North Carolina, Louisville’s offense has had a much better showing with each offensive series resulting in points. Louisville leads UNC 20-14 at the halftime break.
But it hasn’t been all been pretty for the Cardinals. Knocking on the doorstep for another score, Lamar Jackson nearly threw away an easy three points with an ill-advised throw to get rid of the ball into a spot with nobody but Tar Heels around to make a play. Fortunately for Jackson, the ball fell incomplete.
Jackson has passed for 259 yards and two touchdowns and leads the Cardinals with 47 rushing yards. Jaylen Smith leads all players with 146 receiving yards, including a 75-yard touchdown pass from Jackson. UNC quarterback Chazz Surratt has completed 12 of 14 pass attempts for 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Louisville has held the upper hand in most areas, but the Tar Heels continue to hang around. Louisville has more than double the offensive yardage as UNC and has a 19-6 advantage in first downs, while holding on to the football for nearly nine additional minutes in the first half.
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.
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has run for two touchdowns in the first half to help fuel a 35-10 halftime lead over visiting Florida State. Yeah, you read that score correctly.
Things could not have gotten off to a much better start for Louisville. The Cardinals, sporting a shiny fire-engine red chrome helmet with a memorial decal for Muhammad Ali, took the opening drive of the game 75 yards for a touchdown, with Jackson adding to his early rising touchdown total. Florida State was left to punt after five plays on the ensuing possession. Two possessions later for the Cardinals and they had a 14-0 lead. Jackson managed to run in from 14 yards on the second touchdown drive.
Florida State would get on the board with a Ricky Aguayo field goal later in the first quarter, and the Seminoles cut the lead to four when Deondre Francois executed Florida State’s best drive of the half and capped it with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Auden Tate in the end zone. Louisville answers with a 79-yard touchdown drive of their own with Jeremy Smith powering into the end zone this time.
Needing an answer, Florida State fumbled away the football to the feisty Cardinals on the first play of the ensuing possession. Jaire Alexander came up with the loose ball out of the hands of Francois, who was under pressure and already looking to take a big loss on the play. Starting at the Florid aState 23-yard line, the Cardinals worked their way to the three-yard line and took a commanding 28-10 lead when Jackson connected with Jaylen Smith on a third-down play.
We have already seen Florida State roar back from a big deficit this season. Will we see that happen once again? Florida State did this once before the last time they were in Louisville, but finding a way to slow down Lamar Jackson does not appear to be coming easily at all for the Seminoles.