Bobby Petrino thought about it, talked about it. Start true freshman Lamar Jackson against sixth ranked Aubrun Tigers last Saturday in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic….turn him loose?
It would have been out of the ordinary for Petrino who requires his quarterbacks to play at a high level in his precision offense. So Petrino went with the experience: Sophomore Reggie Bonnafon.
A year ago Reggie started five games and played in 10. You could say both QBs started as Jackson took the direct snap in shot gun formation and Bonnafon ran to the left and may have been a receiver on the play. Under pressure Jackson threw into coverage and Auburn’s Tray Matthews intercepted returning the ball to the Cardinals 26.
“Say he didn’t have success,” said Petrino. “Where do you go from there?”
Jackson had a short memory replacing Bonnafon after a mishandled handoff that was fumbled and returned for a touchdown.
Jackson used his legs running for 106 yards. He is the first true freshman to do so in school history and only the second to do it in his first game. He used his arm to throw for 100 yards, 9 of 20.
“We always knew from day one he would play. Always knew he had talent,” said another true freshman Jaylen Smith, Jackson’s roommate. “He’s the most exciting quarterback in college football.”
Jackson certainly sparked life into a struggling Louisville offense late in the first-half helping the Cardinals attempt a comeback. Jackson from Boynton Beach, Florida, a 4-star prospect and the No. 8 dual quarterback in Florida according to 247Sports.com.
“You have to respect his feet,” said Smith.
Jackson’s pick set the tone for Louisville early in the game. His footwork ignited the the Cardinals in the fourth quarter scoring two touchdowns, one by Jackson.
“We called a lot of pass plays,” said Petrino. “He took it and ran it. We tell our quarterbacks if (the defense) turns their backs you run it. That opened up the middle.”
Smith said that Jackson can throw a football 85 yards and with something on it. “He throws with high velocity,” said Smith. “He can throw a hitch to you at a hundred miles an hour.”
Auburn coach Gus Malzohn said, “that quarterback’s electric.”
Petrino said he isn’t as much worried about Jackson running the football as the defense doesn’t get a clean shot at him.
“There’s a lot times you look at how hard does the guy get hit, knocked down, or does the guy get hit, how big (of) hits to they take? Lamar ran the ball (16) and didn’t really get hit that hard any time he ran it.”
Petrino liked what he saw of Jackson in front of over 73,000 fans in a charged environment against a team ranked sixth from the powerful Southeastern Conference.
“We thought he needed to be in the game and see how he handled the atmosphere,” said Petrino. “When he runs the ball he has great instincts. He understands where the rush is coming from.”
Another aspect of Jackson’s game is his ability to get the ball out quickly.
“He has a really quick release. He snaps it,” said Petrino. “Some guys can’t do that. You can tell he has been playing since he was young.”
And his Louisville career has just begin.
Latest posts by Ed Peak (see all)
- SWEEP! Cardinal Baseball Takes All 3 vs. SIU-Edwardsville - February 21, 2016
- ED PEAK: Cards Set to Take On Blue Devils - February 20, 2016
- ED PEAK: Early Demise of Louisville Basketball Greatly Exaggerated - February 18, 2016