Bobby Petrino loves freshman QB Lamar Jackson.
The gossip gained some heft, when, during interviews where the question of who would be QB came up, the head coach and his OC Garrick McGee would prevaricate about Jackson. You could see a light brighten behind their eyes, but their praise would be measured, their intentions as to how and how much they intended to use the super talented Floridian clouded.
Those paying close attention knew that rookie Jackson would be used, even in a stressful prime slot opener on CBS with SEC power Auburn.
What nobody could have expected, and, because of that, what Petrino had up his sleeve, was a roll the dice bit of first offensive snap trickeration.
Methinks the coach was a little too smitten. That play call was just too cute, a gimmick.
Reggie Bonnafon trots on the field as QB; Jackson also, somewhat unnoticed as a RB. Reggie goes in motion. Direct snap to the freshman. One apparently delivered too quickly by surprise starting center Tobijah Hughley. A bit of panic ensued.
Jackson threw into triple coverage down the sideline. And, like Teddy Bridgewater before him tossed a pick on his first college pass.
The War Eagles tallied soon thereafter, and the Cardinals had to climb up hill the rest of the afternoon.
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Petrino was similarly measured — coy? — when asked post-game if Jackson will be his QB moving forward?
With the possibility that James Quick might be out for awhile, perhaps for the whole season, depending on the severity of his leg injury, and with other injuries at wide receiver, here’s what many fans feel makes sense on this morning after.
Move Bonnafon to wideout. Actually the slot. Move serviceable Will Gardner and Kyle Bolin up a spot on the depth chart.
Live or die with Jackson running the O, abide his learning phase.
Of course, I have no idea if Petrino is thinking anything like that at all.
Nonetheless, one stint into his Cardinal career, Jackson is already being measured against the best U of L football player ever, Teddy Bridgewater.
Jackson is rawer. At this juncture, doesn’t have Teddy B’s sense of the game, or his quarterbacking instincts. Or, the current Viking QB’s football intelligence.
What Jackson does have is greater athleticism, more power, more speed, greater elusiveness and a stronger arm than Bridgewater.
It appears a given that U of L is going to have to trudge through another season with an iffy, on again off again O line. Petrino said he used LJ yesterday to offset that. Which makes sense that he’ll harbor the same inclination moving forward.
We’ll find out at High Noon Saturday, when Houston comes to Papa J’s.
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The next Cardinal I feel compelled to mention is sophomore CB Trumaine Washington.
He was beaten badly on Auburn’s third TD, which resulted in the Cards falling behind 0-24, early in the 3d. Auburn WR Ricardo Lewis had him turned every which way, easily gaining distance to grab Jeremy Johnson’s 33 yard TD toss.
Minutes later, War Eagle Jason Smith easily beat Washington for a 56 yard reception/ TD. Which was fortuitously called back.
The Miamian somewhat redeemed himself with a coverage pick several plays later. That gain of possession resulted in the Cardinals’ first TD of the game/ season.
Washington was the Cards’ third leading tackler with 7, but I can’t shake those two plays when he was severely outfoxed.1
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I agree with Petrino’s assessment of the DL play:
Yeah, I thought we struggled a little bit stopping their run. I thought that I expected that we would stop their run a little bit more. They really pounded it at us in the second half and tried to use up the clock, but we did get turnovers. We did keep us in the game, and we made a lot of good plays, but we just weren’t consistent enough against the run.
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Louisville’s young/ new receiving corps showed promise.
Brandon Radcliffe started to git ‘er done after intermission.
But, to state the obvious. Lamar Jackson was/is the story.
If only for his performance on U of L’s final scoring drive. Which included a 35 yard bazooka strike to 6-6 Devante Peete on the first play. And a 12 yard 3d and 10 conversion to Traveon Samuel. And his 11 yard 4th and 7 scamper to keep the Cards hopes alive.2
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All things considered, I’m one Cardinal fan who is generally pleased with yesterday’s effort.
U of L had more total yards and first downs than Auburn, an SEC power generally regarded as being a legit national contender.
U of L persevered, overcoming some serious gaffes to make it a game. The Cards outscored its highly regarded foe, 24-7 over the last 36 minutes of the game.
U of L’s last four drives went FG, TD, TD, TD. While the D tightened up considerably, giving Louisville a shot.
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I loved Louisville’s smart looking, snappy white unis.
The helmets with the menacing Cardinal worked. Plus that seriously old school font for the player’s names on the jerseys. Classy.
Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson are about as good as announcing teams get. Though, they were harsh on Petrino for calling that last timeout, they weren’t alone. I must admit that I too thought the clock stayed stopped until the next snap after the penalty.
Let me add my voice to those who have already opined, that wasn’t where the game was lost.
— Seedy K