The Louisville Cardinals were a team that some had high hopes for this season. Sports Illustrated listed them as the fifteenth-ranked team in America. But even with the preseason optimism, there were plenty that thought they were still one year away. They had a team that had not got it done against big name teams and that was an issue. But with their performance on Saturday afternoon, the Cardinals put the national college football scene on notice. Tenth-ranked Louisville hosted second-ranked Florida state on Saturday. And while some expected a tight game between the Seminoles and Cardinals, the game was anything but that. The Cardinals ran around and over the Seminoles in every fashion imaginable as they won the game 63-20 and it wasn’t even that close. The Cardinals captured the attention of the nation, but so did one particular player that has been electrifying us all during the season so far.
Quarterback Lamar Jackson was an incredible talent when he played high school in Florida. But the funny thing is Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino never got to see him throw in person. Even without seeing him throw in person, Petrino saw the talent that was there within Jackson. And in his freshman season, we got to see some glimpses of what he could be. He was a guy that could get out of the pocket and make defenders look silly. But at that point in time, he was not exactly the most accurate thrower, only having a 54.7% completion rate. He ended his freshman season with 23 total touchdowns. But coming into this year, it seems like he has taken it to the next level. He is throwing for a 61 % completion rate along with eight touchdowns. Add in ten touchdowns running and he is almost to his total amount for all last season and we have not reached October yet. Of course many did not look much into his record-breaking numbers to start the season (played against Syracuse and Charlotte to start the season), but there is no doubt that he is real after what we saw Saturday afternoon.
With him having five total touchdowns against the Seminoles, Jackson has put himself on the national scene. The level of excitement he brings everytime he runs or throws the football makes you hold your breath in anticipation. In fact, there are many that are yelling for him to be in the Heisman conversation and with great reason. But just as much as fans see him hitting the national scene, so do the teams that have to see him the rest of the season. He will now have more games where their is a linebacker spying on him and there will also be defensive ends or outside linebackers that crowd the line of scrimmage heavily. The thing he will have to figure out now is how to still get his numbers but make sure to make the right play for his team. That will fall upon head coach Bobby Petrino. The Cardinals have other weapons on their team and they will surely get their chance. It may mean less running for Jackson, but it will also mean more players get involved, which makes Louisville that more dangerous. Petrino, for as much as many have disdain for him, is an offensive wizard. And with Jackson as his quarterback, there is no limit to the things that he can do.
With Jackson at the helm, Louisville has real national title aspirations. And along with the national title hopes, Jackson keeps stating his case over and over for the Heisman trophy. What is even more interesting is that Petrino knew what he had once he saw the tape of him. And he never waivered on what he thought he would become. Fast forward to now and we see that maybe Petrino knows what he is talking about when it comes to football. And Petrino and Jackson may end up taking Louisville somewhere they have never gone before.