LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Jeff Brohm stayed at Purdue. Dave Ragone is going to the NFL playoffs. So is Teddy Bridgewater.
It seems as if there is always something to say about former University of Louisville quarterbacks, starting with John Unitas. But one guy keeps moving to the top of the discussion — Lamar Demeatrice Jackson, who will not turn 22 until early next month.
1. Lamar For the Win
I’m not arguing that Lamar Jackson deserves the NFL offensive rookie of the year award. I’m not suggesting Lamar Jackson has proven his final destination will be Canton, Ohio. Every time he takes off on a long, dazzling run, you wonder if it will be Jackson's final play this season. Quarterbacks are not designed to be crunched by linebackers.
But for a guy whose college career at the University of Louisville looked more remarkable every time the Cardinals lost another game by 30 or more points this season, Jackson has taken more barbs than he deserved as a quarterback prospect for the National Football League.
In the Class of 2018, Jackson will always be judged by the four quarterbacks selected ahead of him. The brain trust of the Baltimore Ravens believed in Jackson, even though the whispers out of Baltimore last summer were that Joe Flacco was less than gaga about having his likely replacement in training camp.
Flash forward to mid-December. Flacco is out of the Ravens’ starting lineup — and likely on his way out of town next season,
With the help of the Ravens’ stout defense, Jackson has his team in position to advance to the playoffs — if they can finish with victories on the road at San Diego and at home against the Browns. Big IF.
I checked the numbers at FootballDB.com. Here are the Won-Loss records this season for the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland, 5-6.
Sam Darnold, New York Jets, 4-7.
Josh Allen, Buffalo, 4-5.
Josh Rosen, Arizona, 3-8.
Lamar Jackson, Baltimore, 4-1.
Not bad for a guy whose critics like to say can’t throw an accurate spiral or read defenses. Jackson's completion percentage is nearly 59 percent, about the same number as he delivered last season for Louisville. He ranks 27th overall in rushing with 566 yards, which is first among all quarterbacks.
Who is the best rookie QB in the NFL this season?
2. Those Crazy Cameron Crazies
Slobbering over Zion Williamson and R. J. Barrett isn’t enough for Duke fans this season, now that a perfect season is out of the question for Mike Krzyzewski’s team.
The Crazies just wanna have fun.
Apparently, they’re going to have a big time Jan. 19, when Virginia visits Cameron Indoor Stadium. They’ve raised the money to fly former UMBC star K.J. Maura from Puerto Rico, where he plays professionally, to Durham.
Maura scored 10 points last March when UMBC toppled Virginia to become the first 16 seed to upset a 1-seed in the men’s NCAA Tournament. The Crazies raised $555 to pay Maura’s air fare to have a good laugh.
I’d give a special hat tip to Virginia guard Kyle Guy, who contributed (again) to the gag with this tweet:
Wahoos, let’s make this happen.. https://t.co/IgkO9Xmu3l— Kyle J Guy (@kylejguy5) December 14, 2018
Wonder if the Crazies have considered inviting the 2014 Mercer squad, the one that knocked Duke out of the NCAA Tournament? Those guys deserve to have fun, too.
3. Lunardi 1, Willard 0
Former Louisville assistant coach Kevin Willard has never been a chesty guy. Among the former Rick Pitino assistants I’ve encountered, I’d rank Willard behind Steve Masiello and Kevin Keatts in swagger.
But after Seton Hall backed its overtime victory against Kentucky with another win against Rutgers over the weekend, Willard took a moment to salute his program with this observation:
"Besides Villanova, we've been the most successful program in the Northeast the past five years, bar none." #shbb #HALLin."
ESPN's Joe Lunardi is more than a master of the NCAA Tournament bracket. He’s a Philly guy and a sage of East Coast basketball.
Lunardi fired off this rebuttal:
Quite a statement with one NCAA win (and 3 bids) in 5 years. Off the top of my head, in the same span, UConn has an NCAA title, Syracuse a Final Four, 5 straight bids for Providence and URI has two NCAA wins. Bar none?!? https://t.co/tyXiqnbqeH— Joe Lunardi (@ESPNLunardi) December 16, 2018
4. The Wisdom of Matt Painter
Matt Painter does solid work at Purdue. He rarely signs the best of the best but his teams are generally competitive at the top of the Big Ten.
He’s excellent at projecting and identifying players who have room to grown in their games — folks like Vincent Edwards, Isaac Haas, Dakota Mathias and Carsen Edwards.
Three of those four guys are not with Purdue this season. The Boilermakers, as expected, have wobbled. Their eight-point loss to Notre Dame Saturday was their fifth defeat in 11 games.
Painter was not throwing things after the game. But he made this illuminating observation about young players after the game.
This is worth a listen.— Andrew Pogar (@AndrewPogar) December 15, 2018
While assessing his team following an 88-80 loss to Notre Dame, #Purdue head coach Matt Painter shares some advice to high school players looking to compete in college:
"You have to get over yourself." pic.twitter.com/XhQ291PyyB
5. Fill In the Missing Playoff Team
Alabama is the defending national champion, the team that must headline any discussion about the college football national playoffs.
Clemson is Alabama wannabe, always tugging at Bama’s cloak of superiority, ready to move to the front of the line.
Oklahoma likely does not have the defense to win the national title, but the Sooners will demand your complete attention because with Kyler Murray at quarterback they can score 40 (or more) on anybody.
Am I forgetting anybody?
Did ESPN forget anybody with its playoff preview graphic?
Does anybody still care about Urban Meyer?
6. Bring that App State Offense to Louisville ASAP
Scott Satterfield did not coach Appalachian State Saturday night when the Mountaineers dispatched Middle Tennessee State, 45-13, in the New Orleans Bowl.
He sat behind the south baseline at the KFC Yum! Center and watched Louisville defeat Kent State in basketball while welcoming a small collection of recruits to town.
But the program Satterfield built carried on with the sizzle App State showed all season while rolling MTSU, scoring on six straight possessions in one stretch while also mixing in trick plays.
Nationally, the reaction was positive for App State, with several national football observers Tweeting that the Mountaineers earned a spot in the final Top 25.
App State should finish the season ranked.— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) December 16, 2018
7. No Cash, Plenty of Gift Cards and Video Games
You know the dance that the NCAA, college football and the bowl games stage with the players.
They cannot be paid cash for bowl appearances, but they are rewarded with nice lodging, meals and a collection of other goodies.
For some reason, it has the interest of TMZ.com, so the celebrity gossip web site put together a photo gallery of the best trinkets and goodies that will be handed out to players during this bowl season.
College football players don't get paid, but they do get perks ... awesome perks. https://t.co/7TfxQHIIsh— TMZ Sports (@TMZ_Sports) December 17, 2018
Cash seems more reasonable.
8. Dave Ragone Playoff Bound
Jackson is not the only former University of Louisville quarterback scrambling to stretch his season into January. Former Cards’ quarterback Dave Ragone was one of a handful of staff members retained when Matt Nagy took over from John Fox with the Bears after last season.
Ragone has a winning way with players and has quietly made his name as an excellent quarterbacks coach who should blossom into an offensive coordinator one day.
Ragone, teamed with Bears’ OC Mark Helfrich, has accelerated the development of Mitch Trubisky, the second-year quarterback who led Chicago past Green Bay Sunday to clinch the NFC North title. The Bears are the toast of the town.
9. Tweet of the Day
This Tweet has nothing to do with sports. Everything to do with my favorite animal.
This is how I imagine people are taken to heaven. pic.twitter.com/dkJLSbTOqV— Jenny Johnson (@JennyJohnsonHi5) December 17, 2018
Where do I sign up?
10. Rick Pitino Tweet of the Week
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