Reviewing the 2015 season is a roller coaster of highlight plays and complete lapses from the Louisville Offense. Bobby Petrino toyed with the quarterback position for most of the year hoping to provide that spark to ignite the offense. Reggie Bonnafon was the safe option to start Game 1 as he had the most experience. Kyle Bolin was the highly touted recruit that had earned the praise of coaches but never seemed to emerge as “THE” guy. But Lamar Jackson…….. Lamar Jackson had that swagger. There were poor throws, poor decisions, he couldn’t take a snap under center most of the year and yet he never lost that unique presence that gave off the vibe of “I’ve got this, coach”.
Now in his second year Lamar Jackson is the guy. Sure, his foot speed is first class. His arm strength is elite. His upside is through the roof. But even more than all those things, Lamar Jackson brings a sense that fans might finally see the Bobby Petrino offensive production from his first stint at Louisville.
Louisville Football hasn’t seen the “Petrino Standard” in the past two seasons on offense, a standard in which the Cardinals’ offense would come into games knowing they could and would impose their will on the other team. When Petrino walked onto the field for every game you could sense the confidence in his demeanor and every Louisville fan wondered just what Petrino had up his sleeve. He knew there were weapons at basically every position and he was going to use them. From this was born the mindset that Louisville can score every time they touch the ball. Lamar Jackson feels the same way and you can tell it from how he operates.
In a year in which Louisville’s offense struggled mightily at times, Jackson never seemed to lower his expectations. Every time he was on the field he was trying to make a play. Whether it was buying time to try to give a receiver the opportunity to get open or scrambling when all hell broke loose in the backfield, Jackson was playing like a user controlled player in Madden. Sometimes it was reckless, sometimes it was ill-advised, but all the time he was trying to make something happen. Jackson knew his arm strength was exceptional and he knew his running ability was unlike any other.
So as we head into the highly anticipated 2016 season there is a convergence of mindsets. Bobby Petrino is at the helm knowing once again he has tricks up his sleeve and an offense that has the confidence needed to impose their will. Under center, Lamar Jackson is more confident in the plays, in the system, and in those around him. Two of the most influential people in the Louisville football program see eye to eye and know there is only one speed: pedal to the metal.
Even greater than those, Bobby Petrino has never lost that swagger that makes him such a great coach, and Lamar Jackson has always had that swagger that has made him who he is. And that swagger is what makes the 2016 Louisville football team and Lamar Jackson, so good.
College Football has been warned.
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