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Ryan Cooper | NCAA.com | September 5, 2016

Heisman Watch: Louisville's Jackson makes strong case

College Football: Hand Him The... Louisville's Lamar Jackson

Looking at the whole picture of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson’s season opener is impressive. The sophomore had 286 passing yards (24th in the nation), 119 rushing yards (32nd) and, the most impressive statistic, eight touchdowns (first).

But then you look a little closer and realize the figure that makes Jackson’s Week 1 the best in the nation: He only played one half.

That’s right, in just 30 minutes of work, the Boynton Beach, Florida product had over 400 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns. His biggest pitfall in Thursday’s 70-14 win over Charlotte was the fact that he was so good that coach Bobby Petrino had no reason to send him back out there for the second half with a 56-0 halftime advantage.

Jackson had a really good true freshman season as the Cardinals’ primary starter, finishing second in the ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year vote and falling just shy of 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing.

His promising rookie season made him a trendy pick to emerge as one of the nation’s elite in 2016, and he wasted no time making a case to be just that.

Jackson, as leaders often do, downplayed his performance in the game and instead credited his coaches and teammates. But let’s dive into the drive log and see just how nearly impeccable his performance was.

Plays Yards Result
6 75 Jackson 36-yard rush TD
3 2 Punt
5 80 Jackson 13-yard pass TD
2 39 Jackson 24-yard pass TD
5 35 Jackson 1-yard rush TD
2 60 Jackson 16-yard pass TD
5 65 Jackson 20-yard pass TD
3 63 Jackson 32-yard pass TD
8 66 Jackson 1-yard pass TD

It’s a shame he had that three-and-out on the second drive or this might have been a pretty decent half.

It’s fun to think about what Jackson could have accomplished in a full game. While it’s hard to believe he could have equaled those numbers for another 30 minutes, let’s see what pace he was on:

  • Yards: 810 (FBS record is 751)
  • Touchdowns: 16 (FBS record is 11)
  • Touchdown passes: 12 (FBS record is 11)
  • 34-of-46, 572 passing yards, 238 rushing yards, 12 passing touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns


Not too shabby. Yes, it was against a Charlotte team that went 2-10 last year and would have ranked 88th in total defense if it wasn’t reclassifying, and no, Jackson isn’t likely to do anything close to this again, but those 30 minutes of work were still more than enough to vault him to the top of the Week 1 Heisman watch.

Oh, and on top of his ridiculous performance, Jackson also went viral for a totally off-the-field moment when receiver Traveon Samuel sat to his left, resulting in this image below.

So yeah, it was an eventful Week 1 all around for Lamar Jackson.

Other fast starters

Jackson might have been a very off-the-wall Heisman pick before the first week, but a couple of players who were much more commonly put in that class also came out on fire.

RELATED: Preseason favorites for 2016 Heisman

Georgia's Nick Chubb, in his long-awaited return from a knee injury that prematurely ended his sophomore season, picked up in the exact spot that he left off. The running back picked up 222 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns.

The performance didn't just come up big in terms of numbers but in rising up to a big situation, as the Bulldogs needed all the offense they could get to come back and beat No. 22 North Carolina 33-24. Chubb broke away for a 55-yard touchdown with three and a half minutes left, putting the finishing touches on the win.

Meanwhile in Columbus, Ohio, redshirt junior J.T. Barrett had one of the biggest offensive performances in the storied history of Ohio State.

An early pick-six had Buckeye Nation a little worried, but Barrett calmed everyone down in a big way by going on to throw for six touchdowns and 349 yards in a 77-10 throttling of Bowling Green. The Texas native also ran in another touchdown, finishing with 30 rushing yards.

Last year was not a stellar one for Barrett, who started the season backing up Cardale Jones and struggled to really find his rhythm once he regained his full-time starting gig. But a full camp as the clear-cut No. 1 quarterback seems to have paid dividends, and Barrett is looking ready to put up more monstrous numbers and hang around in the Heisman race all season long.

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