Despite jab, Johnson has respect for Jackson


Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has practically lived on the highlight reel this season.

One of Jackson’s many memorable plays occurred against Syracuse in Week 2, when Jackson hurdled a defender en route to one of his nation-leading 12 touchdown runs.

It was an impressive show of athleticism, and Jackson made the move look graceful.

But Clemson safety Jadar Johnson let it be warned on Tuesday what might happen on Saturday night if Jackson tries the stunt against him when No. 4 Louisville visits No. 3 Clemson in Death Valley.

“I’m going to slam him,” Johnson said with a laugh when asked what he would do if Jackson tries to hurdle him.

Don’t get Johnson wrong, though. Despite the jest, he has a lot of respect for Jackson.

“He’s definitely a good player,” Johnson said. “I haven’t really seen a quarterback as versatile as him.”

And why wouldn’t he respect Jackson?

The sophomore leads the country with 25 total touchdowns and 12 rushing touchdowns. He is also second in total offense with more than 1,800 yards, fifth with 526 rushing yards and ninth with 1,330 passing yards.

Johnson said it won’t be an easy task to contain Jackson when he decides to scramble.

Having played against another mobile quarterback last week in Georgia Tech’s Justin Thomas, though, Johnson feels the defense will be prepared.

“I kind of just relate it to the Georgia Tech game,” Johnson said. “With their quarterback, he ran around a lot before he threw the ball, so it’s all about eye discipline. If you’re reading your key, you can’t really see what he’s doing back there. If he runs around 10 seconds and throws the ball, as long as you have your eye on your key, you’ll be in the right spot.”

Led by Jackson, Louisville’s offense has put up gaudy numbers. The Cardinals have scored 70, 62, 63 and 59 points in their first four games, respectively. The attack tops the country in total offense (682 yards per game) and is first in plays of 20 or more yards.

However, Johnson has confidence in Clemson’s defense and said it won’t be intimidated.

“I don’t really feel like we have to step out of our element or jump up another notch to really stop him,” Johnson said. “I feel like we have the tools and we have the skill set to limit him.”

Many pundits have projected Louisville to beat Clemson in an offensive shootout.

Clemson’s defense has insisted it isn’t paying attention to the outside noise, but it’s talk like that which has seemed to put a chip on a few shoulders.

“I feel like it’s definitely a big game for the defense,” Johnson said. “Even after the Georgia Tech game, I’m pretty sure we still have a lot of doubters out there, and it’s always good to come back week in and week out and just show that you can be consistent with it.”

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