Lamar Jackson finished up his freshman season in style. The UofL quarterback rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the Cards come from behind 38-24 win at Kentucky and then rushed for 226 and threw for 227 yards in UofL’s 27-21 Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M. He joins Vince Young and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel as just the third quarterback to pass for 200 yards and rush for 200 yards in a bowl game. UofL Head Coach Bobby Petrino admitted at media day that Jackson accomplished all that without knowing all the plays – something the Pompano Beach, Florida native has corrected for this season.
I’ve been trying to just worry about getting better – staying after it, getting better, trying to be with my teammates more – trying to get a bond, a connection to get ready for the season.
What’s different about what goes through your head before a play compared to last year?
I’m just more calm. Last year, I was so ready to get the play over and try to score fast. I just take my time and see what the defense is trying to throw at me. I just take my time.
How hard is it for you to think throw first?
It’s not hard at all. It depends on what kind of play it is of what the defense is bringing. The level I’m at now, I can look at the defense and tell what they’re bringing. I made the decision by myself, not really the coaches.
What did the Kentucky game and the Texas A&M game do for your confidence?
It really didn’t do anything because I knew I had that in me, you know? I just had to break it out. It was time for me to show it.
How did you bounce back so quickly from throwing that interception on your first college play against Auburn?
They always put in my mind just move on to the next play. I was ready to get back out there. I was like, “Coach has to give me another opportunity.” So that’s all it was and I knew what I could do.
Are you apprehensive at all about the media coverage that you are going to have to deal with as the starting quarterback?
At first I was, but now it’s getting cool. I’m used to it now. It’s better.
What about your offensive line, how much better is that unit?
Last year, we were all very young. Most of us didn’t know many of the plays and we would get out there and look like we were all over the place, but now, it’s like we’ve all come together and know what we’re doing.
When you go to the line and you don’t know the play, are you just looking for a hole to run through?
No, it wasn’t that. The plays that he would give me, it’d be like I knew a certain side of the field and I’d just read that one side, stare down my receiver. That’s when I’d look bad and I’d just run.
How much easier is practice when you do know the plays?
It’s a lot easier because I don’t have to deal with me just looking bad. I don’t like looking bad. Like with my team, I like to make everything look perfect.
What is your relationship like with Reggie Bonnafon?
Reggie and I are like brothers. We go everywhere together – off the field, we crack jokes all day. It’s like we’re brothers. We’re just trying to make our team win, that’s all.