Everybody’s Talking about Lamar

Photo by ADAM CREECH | Contributing photographer

Photo by ADAM CREECH | Contributing photographer

Lamar Jackson had a performance for the ages in UofL’s 27-21 win over Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl. The Cards freshman quarterback carried the ball 22 times for 226 yards and two touchdowns and completed 12 of his 26 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the season with 960 yards rushing, already the career record for a UofL quarterback. After the game, I discussed his record setting performance with Jackson himself, UofL Head Coach Bobby Petrino, UofL offensive coordinator Garrick McGee and wide receivers James Quick and Jaylen Smith. Smith is Jackson’s roommate.

When you hear 453 yards, over 200 rushing and over 200 passing, does that even amaze you?
Jackson: I should have been doing that throughout the whole season. That really doesn’t impress me because of a lot of mistakes I made on the field. It kind of made me happy because we won the game.

As scary as it sounds, don’t you have a lot of room to improve?
A lot, a lot.

What are the main things?
Just keeping my feet set and delivering great passes. Being on target a lot instead of messing up on my mechanics.

Did you feel different out there for this game as opposed to earlier starts?
Actually, the preparation for the game. I started getting into the system even more. I just sat down and got into my playbook and went from there.

Garrick, you lit up before the season when you were talking about him, but has he even surprised you with the numbers he put up?
Garrick McGee: Well he may be a special kid. Not only his athletic ability and his ability to compete like crazy, but just that he’s a really good kid, a really good teammate, and our players just rally around him and love the guy. That’s what makes him special to me is that he’s just a really good teammate.

Isn’t there a ton of room for improvement?
There’s a lot of room for improvement, no doubt about it, but in regards to being competitive and really caring about our team and our program doing well, he has it. The improvement comes with dropping and understanding defenses and throwing the ball, but there’s really no improvement when it comes to being a competitor and really caring about us doing well.

He had over 450 yards of offense, but as a coach, do you see an even higher ceiling?
Bobby Petrino: What I’m most proud about Lamar is that over this preparation, he worked really hard. He was up there for extra hours by himself, watching video, taking notes, trying to really learn what it takes to be a quarterback. He improved tremendously on his footwork and his accuracy throwing the ball. Lamar executed the offense. He did great executing the run game, running the ball himself. I was happy with the way he threw the football, and it was a great win.

Is he a Heisman Trophy candidate?
James Quick: Soon, soon.

Does he ever cease amaze you?
Every time he goes down the field I’m surprised. He’s just one exciting player to be around and to play with because he knows how to make plays.

Jaylen, your roommate is already special, but where can he get better?
Jaylen Smith: He was 12-for-26, and I know Lamar can probably complete every pass that was incomplete and he knows that. Next year hopefully we’re in the Orange Bowl, the playoff, 400 yards, looking for bigger and better. VT