Lamar and the Other Guys

Photo: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The Heisman Trophy will be presented to the nations “most outstanding player” on Saturday night. For many Louisville fans, this is the last chance to capture something remarkable on what looked to be a special season before losing the final two games of the season. Lamar Jackson has been the Heisman frontrunner essentially since the beginning, but the last two games have let the field gain some traction.

To get it out of the way early, I do believe Jackson will run away with the trophy, and I believe he is the most deserving of it. My rank of the finalists is as follows:

  1. Lamar Jackson, Louisville
  2. Deshaun Watson, Clemson
  3. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
  4. Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma
  5. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan

The historical numbers certainly favor Jackson. Teammates inevitably hurt each other for the most part, due to the fact that the votes tend to get split between them. That being said, there has been one defensive player to  win the award (Charles Woodson, DB) which still puts Mayfield and Westbrook over Peppers. There is also a quarterback bias in recent years. In total, 44 of the Heisman winners have been halfbacks/runnning backs, and 33 have been quarterbacks. However, since 1990, there have been 6 running backs selected and 17 quarterbacks selected. All of this favors both Lamar and Watson, who most believe are the two front runners.

So when we rule out the three farthest from contention, we’re left with the two ACC quarterbacks. Watson was a finalist last season, finishing third behind Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry, who won the award. Here’s how the two quarterbacks stats match up:

  • Watson: Passing- 3914 yards, 37 TD, 15 INT ..Rushing- 524 yards, 6 TD
  • Jackson: Passing- 3390 yards, 30 TD, 9 INT ..Rushing- 1538 yards, 21 TD

Jackson has almost 500 more yards of total offense and 8 more touchdowns than Watson does. That’s a huge difference when you consider Jackson also played one less game.

The two biggest knocks on Jackson is the teams record (9-3 with a loss in Death Valley to Clemson) and his turnovers down the stretch of the season. In the loss to Kentucky, Jackson had 3 interceptions and also had the game-ending fumble to seal the win for the Wildcats. However, in their head-to-head matchup this season, Jackson went toe to toe Watson. Jackson finished with 457 yards of offense and three touchdowns with only one interception. Watson finished with 397 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions.

What Would This Mean for the University of Louisville?

Lamar is the schools first player to be invited to New York as part of the ceremony. Of the 81 Heisman winners, only 36 current FBS schools have a Heisman winner in their history. That means only 28% of the 128 schools have winners. That’s a huge deal and would be program changing. Louisville built a statue for Johnny Unitas in the stadium. I can’t imagine what they will do for Lamar if he wins.

We all know the “first player to…” numbers Lamar has put up this season, so I won’t rehash them here. But there is something to be said for a player, who after 81 seasons of Heisman trophy presentations, is still doing things no one has ever seen. I remember in 2007 when Tim Tebow won the Heisman and everyone made a HUGE deal about the fact that he finished with 30+ passing touchdowns and 20+ rushing touchdowns, and Lamar has done that this season. In my mind, there is Lamar and the other guys. Hopefully of Saturday night, the voters will agree.

Kentucky 41, Louisville 38 Game Notes

Fuck that whole bunch from Lexington. Let’s get it!

  • Brandon Radcliff proposal. Dawww.
  • I still get goosebumps when they play the Ali intro. Seriously the best work our media team has done in my memory.
  • Kentucky has film on Jaylen Smith right? Can’t believe they let the huge pass over the middle to start the game.
  • And Lamar with the run in. That drive was very systematic. It’s going to be a long game for the Kentucky defense.
  • Wow. Huge blown play over top for Kentuckys first score. I mean a complete breakdown in communication and awareness by the secondary. Awful start for the defense.
  • Lamar’s accuracy has to get better. The overthrowing wide open receivers has to stop. It’s arguably his biggest weakness.
  • Also, fumbles when he runs. Even when they’re overturned.
  • Offense starting to look bad. I don’t understand running the ball two plays in a row and I don’t understand the timing on some of the runs. Second and long with this offense isn’t the time to hand it off to Radcliff.
  • The defense is looking like they also haven’t seen tape of the Kentucky offense. Some terrible breaks to let up first downs.
  • Bennie Snell is going to be a pain in our ass for years, ladies and gentlemen. Get used to him, unfortunately.
  • And Boom is Booming. 14-7 Kentucky.
  • I’ve noticed that Lamar has started dropping WAY back when he has to pass. He knows he doesn’t have an offensive line in front of him. And it’s affecting his play. 
  • Nice strike to Bonnafon gets the game tied up. Hopefully it continues.
  • Defense finally gets a nice, momentum stop and the offense gets a huge boost from the kick catch interference on the punt. Things starting to fall into place for Louisville.
  • Soft Bobby making an appearance again. We get stopped on the 1 and kick a field goal. Firstly, terrible play calling yet again in the red zone. And then we kick the field goal. Should have gone for it. Coaching scared is what lost us the Houston game. 
  • James Quick is having himself a game so far. Looking really solid.
  • I love the shovel pass to Hikutini for the touchdown. I just love shovel passes. A shovel pass in this offense is particularly devastating because Lamar commands so much attention on the ground. They aren’t looking underneath for an option until it’s too late.
  • Chucky Williams getting burned again. Awful over top coverage by the defense. Just awful.
  • 24-21 at half. Not what I was expecting at all.
  • Ok, I love Mario Benevides, and maybe it’s because they have only a few minutes, but his analysis at halftime is totally useless. I do believe it’s the time constraints though. Mario is a smart guy and a smart player, he has more insights than he shares during the halftime.
  • Jaire with the breakup over the top to start the second half off. Bobby may have made the right adjustments there.
  • Fields is visibly frustrated by Johnson’s elusiveness. He’s been a pain in the ass for sure. I wish it were Drew Barker.
  • Run right up the middle by Snell on third and one should not have been a touchdown. You know they’re running it and he essentially went untouched. Defense looking like a real liability right now. Can’t stop the run or the pass.
  • Lamar rips off the huge read option run and makes sure the offense is rolling, despite the defense.
  • Every. Single. Third. Down. They get conversions.
  • All tied. 31-31. 
  • Lamar with a pick on the first play sets us up for a bad stretch heading into the fourth quarter.
  • Ronald Walker was completely oblivious to the ball and let up a huge touchdown to start the fourth. It was by far the least aware I’ve seen a defender in any game this year.
  • Interception of Hikutini’s hands might be a dagger. Defense doesn’t seem to be able to stop them and we might not have it to come back from 2 scores down.
  • D’Asian Richardson had a HUGE stop at the point of the handoff, but it was completely negated by the huge Kemp play right after it. You could hear a pin drop in the stadium before Richardson’s play, and the crowd was loud immediately after.
  • I love the Heisman pose after Lamar runs it in. Makes a statement in my opinion. 
  • Huge takeaway by Chris Williams to flip the momentum. Brilliant continuation of the play to force the turnover.
  • Started the season with #LamarLeap, might end it with #LamarLeak. The fumbles….
  • Well. That was something.

The sideline never seemed to be inflated. It showed in the way we played and the way we handled the adversity. Oh well. 

Offensive MVP was easily Cole Hikutini. Had 7 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. 

Defensive MVP for me was D’Asian Richardson. No stats that I could find on him, but he seemed to be the only defensive linemen able to get in the backfield and make plays.

On to the bowl game, wherever that may be.

Houston 36, Louisville 10 Game Notes

I have become increasingly nervous about this game. I woke up in a Jeremy Ito-induced sweat last night. Rutgers, you have not been forgotten. I’m glad you hate the B1G so far. Ugh. Let’s go!

  • Houston uni’s = flameeeeeeeessssssss
  • Speaking of, wish we had gone all-white or all-white with chrome. Alas.
  • Florida State also deferred Houston.
  • Malik Williams. Smh.
  • Hey, Wake lead for 3 quarters right?
  • Loud crowds bother us. All year they have.
  • Gonna have to roll Lamar a lot. They will be forcing him to throw.
  • The punting has been incredible for the most part this year. Amazing turn of events.
  • Defense gets settled in and forces Houston to punt. Time for the offense to settle down.
  • If I see another false start, I’m going to lose my shit. It’s not rocket science guys!
  • Defense once again makes a stop. MVP’s.
  • Jaylen Smith is one of the most gifted receivers to play here. He’s only a true sophomore!
  • Second fumble of the game. I mean…I just don’t even know.
  • Defense holds again. 10-0 Houston. Could be much, much, much, much, much worse.
  • I hate penalties.
  • #FuckinHughley
  • Well, the best thing I can say about the first quarter is that it’s over. Moving on.
  • Mason King is my favorite Louisville punter ever.
  • And we’ve moved to the “pick on Washington” portion of Houston’s offense.
  • Fucking trick play…
  • 17-0. This may not be our night.
  • Ed Oliver will be playing on Sunday’s. Just saying. None of our linemen will be. Zero.
  • The game plan for containing Ward has been fantastic. It’s the rest of the players that we aren’t stopping.
  • 24-0. About as bad as this could be going.
  • This is a truly young team. Lead by mostly 19 year old sophomores. Look at the poise on the defense compared to the offense. Mostly lead by seniors.
  • And as I say that the defense gets burned on another trick play. 31-0.
  • Ok, let’s unpack this first half. The Playoffs are gone. The Heisman has slipped a bit. The offensive line is hot, hot garbage. Lamar is doing what he can, but he essentially has one other player on offense (Jaylen Smith). The defense has done what it can, but just like the rest of the season, turnovers and the offense have kept them on their heels. They’re tired and Trumaine Washington needs to go back to Florida. I don’t think I’ll be updating in the second half, unless something major happens.

Well that was something. I know it’s been said a million times at this point, but that was one of the worst offensive line performances I’ve ever seen. Any level. Anyway, I can’t continue to beat what everyone has been saying into the ground. Have to get better.

Kentucky, you’re still next.

Louisville 44, Wake Forest 12 Game Notes

Cards will need a lot of help tonight. Let’s get into it.

  • Jaylen Smith on the first play fumbles it. Not a good start at all. 
  • Cards got lucky to only let a field goal up after the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. I actually like the two strikes rule with that penalty. 
  • Staples drops a sure touchdown. Bad start for the receivers overall.
  • The “get hype” videos for the defense are the worst thing the media team has done this year. It’s not the players fault either. They didn’t need it, and the music sounds like it’s being played through a paper towel roll.
  • Defense getting gashed by the running game early. Getting pressure on the QB when they pass though.
  • Well, Pittsburgh just screwed our playoff hopes I think. 
  • Lamar getting no time to operate in the pocket. O Line looks like shit.
  • Just heard the phrase “NC State is gonna beat Clemson”. Louisville fans are special.
  • Kelsey turns the tide of the momentum with the fumble recovery. 
  • Offense finally started to roll before the Radcliff fumble. Wake takes over and drives the ball down the field for another field goal. 9-0 Wake and we’re in trouble.
  • Lamar has a huge run and fumbles. I’ve never seen such poor ball handling by a team. It’s amazing honestly.
  • 12-0 Wake. Cards need to WAKE up. I know, poor effort.
  • Cards finish the half with a solid drive that stalls in the red zone. I don’t understand why our red zone play calling has been so awful. Weird passes and bad running play have ruined several drives this season. 
  • At least we get some points. 12-3 at the half.
  • Awful pass interference call against Jaire starts the second half. Defense finally gets a punt though.
  • Huge read option give to Radcliff changes the complexion of the game and the Cards down 12-10 now with plenty of time. 
  • Great call by the coaching staff going back to the read option after the touchdown. Defense bit on Radcliff and Lamar got a huge gain. 
  • And terrible job by the coaching staff not passing on 3rd and 10. Missed field goal to boot.
  • I think the conference on the intentional grounding was the other ref saying “If you don’t reverse this, we aren’t getting out of here”.
  • Wake coach, what a dick. Challenging an intentional grounding, which you can’t do. These refs are awful. #ACCAnarchy
  • Radcliff was a man possessed on the touchdown drive. Ran strong, angry and mean. Cards take the lead 16-12 after the failed 2 point conversion.
  • Again, D’Angelo Brown is one of, if not the, most underrated player we have.
  • Your special teams captain, DeVante Peete ladies and gentlemen.
  • Nasty hit, but definitely not targeting. Just an awkward play.
  • Radcliff with his third score and now we’re rolling. Finally looking competent. Good thing other top teams aren’t playing well either.
  • Defense starting to exert its will over their O Line. Passing situations leading to tons of sacks.
  • Lamar broke a tackle from the same guy twice on one play. 
  • Ronald Walker with the pick 6 to officially seal it. Right as USC extends its lead against Washington and Iowa takes the lead against Michigan. Poetic.
  • Cards finish it off with a nice Malik Williams TD. 44-12 final.

A strong performance in the second half to clinch it. Lamar finishes with 298 total yards and 1 touchdown. Off night for him. The MVP has to go to either the entire defense or Brandon Radcliff, who had 141 yards and 3 touchdowns. Great team win for sure. 

Side note: Washington got knocked off by USC and Michigan lost to Iowa. If you’re into that sort of thing. 

Houston, you’re next.

Louisville 54, NC State 13 Game Notes

  • This is the first time I noticed that our fans didn’t boo the opposing team coming out. I’m so glad we stopped doing that to teams that aren’t our rivals or at least highly ranked.
  • Seth Dawkins starts. Glad to see from the freshman.
  • Lamar made the defense sleep with all the passes. 36 yd TD run was beautiful and what we’re used to. 
  • Washington interception was perfect. Good pressure up front and the QB never saw Washington. 
  • Bad play calling on second drive off TO. Too much running. Lamar had a good throw away.
  • Lukayas McNeil two false starts on FG. Penalties and special teams issues combined into one!
  • Thank god he still made the field goal.
  • RB runs too much east to west. Louisville doing a great job sealing gaps and staying on the weak side. 
  • James Quick fumble was correct call on field. Just bad luck.
  • James Hearns is a bad bad man!
  • Penalties already terrible. Really ugly start to the game. It honestly feels like we’re going to spend more real time on special teams than offense or defense.
  • Lamar 74 yd pass to Jaylen Smith was a perfect example of how much Lamar has grown. Old Lamar would have gotten impatient and ran with the ball or been inaccurate on the throw. He was patient, read it perfect and threw it on a rope. 
  • Defense is looking great. 
  • Lamar bad reads on the option up to two.
  • 3 bad penalties on McNeil now. Has to be more disciplined. 
  • I can’t remember the last time Lamar just took a sack. It was jarring.
  • Jaylen didn’t block the defender downfield. It was the only reason Cole didn’t score on the wide open throw from Lamar.
  • Johnathan Greenard is going to be a great linebacker for us. I really like him.
  • #ColeLeap.
  • Blocked punt by Malik Williams was special. We don’t usually get big time plays on special teams.
  • I don’t understand how NC State didn’t use any timeouts. I get that you’re getting blown out, but you don’t even try to stop the momentum on a drive or anything? 
  • Terrible play calling in the red zone for the whole first half. Weird plays, bad choices and just overall terrible play calling.
  • Halftime. Good guys 44, Bad guys 0.
  • A few things: 1. The “Bobby!” Chants were amazing. 2. It was incidental contact. And 3. The more I watch Seth Dawkins, the more I’m reminded of what Julio Jones. Big, tall, fast, and incredibly gifted. It’s easy to see why he’s on the field as a true freshman with all the talent we have at the position. He’s going to be special. 
  • At the game, I have no clue how they called NC State’s first touchdown a touchdown. It looked like he came off the ground, caught the ball, and fell out of bounds. Hoping that it wasn’t that agregious on tv.
  • The offensive line has let up a few sacks. Not good that Lamar is taking the extra hits and not feeling the pressure.
  • 70 yd touchdown pass was just ugly. DB got burned and couldn’t make the tackle. Weird third quarter.
  • Weird quarter continues with Malik Williams fumble on the kick. Never understood the whole “carry the ball with one arm in traffic” thing.
  • If the University doesn’t keep the Muhammed Ali intro to the game and third quarter, I’m burning it all to the ground.
  • #ColeBlock.
  • Jeremy Smith is a bull. Doesn’t ever get stopped the first time.
  • Angry Bobby is my favorite Bobby.
  • How this was the 8th highest crowd in stadium history I’ll never understand. Looked pretty empty in some sections. 
  • Kyle Bolin had a beautiful pass down the right side to Devante Peete. 

All in all, this was a great game. Lamar looked like Lamar full bore with over 400 yards of offense and 4 TDs. Hikutini was fantastic with 118 yards and a touchdown and Jeremy Smith finished with 51 yards and 2 touchdowns. The defense was fantastic for the most part and we may have even found a (short range) kicker. 

Now we just need to pull for A&M, Houston, Oregon State and Penn State. No biggie. Virginia, you’re next.