BOZICH | Lamar Jackson cues the Heisman hype by dazzling Texas A&M
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson was so good against Texas A&M that he stirred comparisons to Johnny Manziel, Vince Young, Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WDRB) – Here are the names of the two players who ran for the most yards against Texas A&M this season:
Derrick Henry of Alabama (236) and Leonard Fournette of Louisiana State (159). Henry won the 2015 Heisman Trophy. Fournette was the mid-season Heisman favorite and is already considered a frontrunner to strike the pose next season.
Add Lamar Jackson, Louisville’s irrepressible freshman quarterback, to the list. He crackled for 226 yards, 126 in the first quarter, as the Cardinals beat the Aggies, 27-21, in the Music City Bowl Wednesday night at Nissan Stadium. For 15 minutes it seemed that every Jackson scramble was more spectacular than the one before.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything like that performance,” Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said. “When he plants that right foot, the party’s over.”
Don’t close the record book yet. I’ve got several additions.
Jackson’s rushing total was a Music City Bowl rushing record. But he also threw for another 227 yards (without an interception). Here are the names of the three quarterbacks who have passed and run for 200 yards in a bowl game:
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M.
Heisman Trophy winner in 2012.
Vince Young, Texas.
National champion in 2005 as well as Heisman runner-up.
Cue the Heisman Hype for Jackson for 2016 and 2017 (remember, the kid is just a freshman).
“I just found that out from you,” Jackson said. “I don’t know what to say. Thanks for telling me.”
Don't worry about it. What does it mean to have your name on a list with those two spectacular college quarterbacks?
“That I’ve got to step up next year,” Jackson said.
I ran that statistic past Garrick McGee, Louisville’s offensive coordinator. He was nearly as speechless as his quarterback.
“Whooaa,” McGee said, with a laugh. “He’s not that good. That’s a lot. That’s a lot.
“I’m really proud of the kid. He doesn’t even realize how good he is. He just goes and out and likes to compete with his teammates. That’s the fun part of dealing with him. He’s just a really good teammate. That’s why the other quarterbacks stuck with him.”
McGee started to talk about the rest of his offense, especially his improved line and talented receivers. Then he stopped. The statistical comparison to Manziel and Young forced McGee to come back to that nugget for official confirmation (which the NCAA later provided).
“Manziel and Vince Young?” McGee asked. “Holy smokes. That’s pretty good people to be with.”
The Aggies saw the complete Lamar Jackson Collection – the hips on a swivel, the churning legs, the crackling speed, the unrelenting spins, the refusal to go down.
He earned his rushing yards on only 22 carries, for a staggering average of 10.3. His touchdown runs were 6 and 61 yards. Some tacklers missed. Most didn't get close enough to miss. Jackson scored two touchdowns.
He completed 12 of 26 throws, including one for 56 yards. His passing touchdowns were for 2 (tight end Micky Crum) and 17 yards (tight end Keith Towbridge). His passing skills appeared to be improved, considerably improved from the guy who chucked that long interception against Auburn on U of L’s first offensive play of this 8-5 season.
They also saw the guy who’ll throw in a false start at just the wrong time, a guy who might place the ball a foot wide or behind a receiver, a guy who sometimes runs when he should throw or throws when he should run.
In other words, a freshman.
That's OK. It's also expected. Jackson is still mastering the demands of playing a complicated position at the highest level of the college game. It’s a process. Remember: Jackson didn’t even start Louisville’s final record season game at Kentucky.
U of L coach Bobby Petrino said that Jackson prepared for the bowl game like an upperclassmen, parking himself in the film room and improving his technique.
With 10 starters set to return on offense and possibly eight on defense, Louisville can win – and win big – next season with the Lamar Jackson who ran the team against the Aggies.
Let me put it a different way: Jackson played like a guy who is finally going to end the carousel of quarterbacks that has surrounded the U of L program for the last two seasons. He is a threat to run or pass his way onto SportsCenter on any snap.
“He played awesome,” said U of L linebacker James Burgess. “He stepped up big. He had no turnovers this game. He made really good decisions with the ball. That’s a great accomplishment for him but he’s got a lot more things he can do in the future.”
Jackson showed improved efficiency and accuracy passing the football, punishing A&M with his unpredictability. He played like a guy who is going to stir up his share of love in the 2016 college football pre-season magazines.
And kick up more comparisons to Johnny Manziel and Vince Young.
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