CRAWFORD | Striking the pose: Lamar Jackson Heisman Watch Week 8
WDRB's Eric Crawford strikes up a new weekly feature. With Louisville's Lamar Jackson still among the top Heisman Trophy candidates, a weekly look at developments with college football's most prestigious award.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — It has to be a photoshop, right? No way did Lamar Jackson assume the Heisman pose during a routine running play in the first half of Louisville’s 54-13 win over North Carolina State.
The photo, shot by local photographer and all-around good guy Jamie Rhodes for USA Today Sports, is nearly a dead-on pose for the most famous trophy in college football. Jackson’s right leg could’ve been closer to the ground and his stiff-arm could’ve been a little stiffer, but it’s unmistakeable when you see the two side by side.
You might think it’s trivial, but things like the image of Jackson hurdling a defender at Syracuse and this unmistakably Heisman-esque still shot matter. They build on the theme of the Heisman being Jackson’s destiny this season, just a little bit. (Take a look at a collage of the fun national media had with it, by clicking the lower image at the right.)
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Jackson outgained N.C. State 431 to 250 on Saturday, or that he had three touchdowns passing and another rushing, more than the Wolfpack had in either category.
I guess you could call him a one-man Wolfpack. But I digress.
With Jackson starting to get into honest-to-God striking distance of the stiffarm trophy, we here at WDRB plan to take a look at his Heisman prospects every Sunday, reviewing his game performance and looking at reaction and other factors from around the nation related to his Heisman standing.
N.C. State players and coach Dave Doeren came away suitably impressed Saturday. Asked about the difference between Clemson and Louisville (the Wolfpack lost at both in consecutive weekends), N.C. State cornerback Jack Tocho pointed to Jackson.
“There is a real difference between game film and real-life speed,” he said. “And he is a tremendous athlete. He did have that quick twitch that we expected but it just showed in the first half that we weren’t really prepared for it.”
THE GAME PLAN
Louisville coach Bobby Petrino knew N.C. State had one of the better defensive lines in the Atlantic Coast Conference and would be bringing its safeties down to provide support against the run, so Jackson was going to have to win with his arm. And he did.
The first three plays of the game were Jackson completions. The fourth was a Jackson 34-yard TD run. Jackson also impressed with a 74-yard strike to Jaylen Smith, and with a laser into a tight window to Jamari Staples in the second half, which drew plenty of attention.
Said Petrino: “I'm very confident that we can throw the ball with anybody, so we come out and execute our passing game and we let him run it a few times, but it was really about throwing the football to win the game. . . . I think every game you're going to see one or two throws that there's not a lot of people in the country that can make. The first post to Jaylen Smith was perfect, it hit him right in stride and Jaylen showed his speed after the catch, but the perfect throw is what allowed him to continue and score. The throw to Staples was just a great job of a quick release and being able to get velocity on the ball. He really snapped his wrist and that was a fun touchdown, because I don't think a lot of guys couldn't fit that one in there.”
THE RECORD BOOKS
Jackson continued his assault on the record books. A sampling from the University of Louisville game notes after Saturday’s win:
— The 34 touchdowns he is responsible for this season are a new school record, breaking the mark of 33 set by Dave Ragone (in 2000) and Brian Brohm (in 2007). His career total of 57 is fifth on Louisville’s all-time list.
— Only 20 teams in FBS (not counting his own) have scored more touchdowns than Jackson has scored by himself this season.
— His 204 points this season are the most scored in a season in Louisville history.
— Jackson has both a rushing and a passing touchdown in 10 consecutive games, and 13 games in his career. Both lead the nation among active players. He also is the first player in ACC history to score more than 15 touchdowns rushing and passing in a season.
— He rushed for his 16th touchdown on Saturday, putting him at No. 6 on the school’s single-season list. His 27 career rushing TDs tie him for fourth all-time at Louisville.
— He now has rushed for 908 yards this season, second-most in a season for any Louisville quarterback (trailing only his 960 yards from last season).
— His 30 career passing TDs tie him for 10th on Louisville’s all-time list.
THEY SAID IT
Lamar Jackson putting on a show vs pretty good D (though it did lose best player). Big Heisman points for this. TEAM making statement too.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) October 22, 2016
Louisville tight end Cole Hikutini tried to hurdle a defender on Saturday, like Jackson did at Syracuse this season. The result wasn’t quite the same. Hikutini didn’t quite make it, and wound up landing on his head. It wasn’t exactly a new thing for the tight end. He did leap a defender last season. Still, he admitted to having Jackson in mind when he did it.
“I probably shouldn't have tried jumping over him, but I wanted to get a cool picture like he did,” Hikutini joked after the game.
Jackson got in his jokes on the sideline. He was giving his teammate a hard time after the series ended.
“That whole time on the sideline, that's what I was doing. I went all up to him,” Jackson said, laughing. “I said he shouldn't have done that. Jeopardizing his health.”
THE JACKSON FIVE
(Quick facts about Louisville’s Heisman candidate)
1. His 74-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Smith in the first quarter Saturday was the longest of his career.
2. When told that he’d broken Louisville’s single-season school record for touchdowns responsible for in a season, Jackson’s response: “Pretty good, I guess.”
3. Frustrated over some offensive misfires in last week’s 24-14 win over Duke, Jackson said he put some extra time in on the practice field this week. “Yeah in practice. I was mad at myself from the Duke game, and coach saw that,” he said. “I was like, 'Man I have to improve. I can't just be out here looking bad, like I run all the time, so I tried to do less running and more throwing.’”
4. Jackson has added nearly 40,000 followers on Twitter since the season began. He’s now at 50,730.
5. Louisville unveiled a website devoted to Jacskon’s Heisman candidacy last week. Visit at Lamar8.com.
The biggest week for a Heisman rival came from LSU’s Leonard Fournette, who needed just eight carries to surpass 250 yards in his first action since Sept. 24, and finished the game against Ole Miss with 284 yards on 16 carries, with touchdowns of 78, 76 and 59 yards.
J.T. Barrett, second in the Heisman odds heading into the week for No. 2 Ohio State, suffered a setback in the Buckeyes’ 24-21 loss at unranked Penn State. Barrett connected on 28 of 43 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown. He also was credited with 26 net yards rushing on 17 carries, but was sacked six times.
Michigan two-way star Jabrill Peppers carried five times for a net of nine yards against Illinois on Saturday and caught one pass for five yards. He returned two kickoffs for 58 yards and had a pair of tackles in the Wolverines’ 41-8 win.
Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes set the NCAA record for total offense with 819 yards and tied the NCAA single-game passing mark with 734 in Saturday’s 66-59 loss to No. 16 Oklahoma. His seven touchdowns (five passing, two rushing) vaulted him past Jackson by one TD. He has 35 on the season.
Clemson’s Deshaun Watson got the week off to prepare for Saturday’s big game at Florida State. It gives the preseason front-runner another big stage to make up ground.
Washington QB Jake Browning wasn’t quite as efficient as he has been all season but still threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns against Oregon State — and he hasn’t thrown an interception since Sept. 24.
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