CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When you are the youngest player in history to win the Heisman Trophy, how do you top that?
That’s the question being asked to Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson who won the Heisman Trophy over Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2016. Jackson, who was 19 at the time, is a year older and wiser than he was last year when he set ACC records for total touchdowns (51), total offense per game (393.4) and rushing yards by a quarterback (1,571).
“Well, you know, I don’t really worry about it,” Jackson told the media at Thursday’s ACC Kickoff at The Westin Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C. “It’s done. I have it. I’m going into every game trying to win it. I’m not worried about the Heisman Trophy or anything like that. I wasn’t trying to win it last year. It happened. My teammates helped me out. My coaches helped me out. I’m just blessed and I’m humbled.”
Though Jackson isn’t too worried about it, his head coach is. Petrino says his quarterback has a few areas to improve on, which is why this spring they put him under center more and have him doing different things in the offense.
Petrino says Jackson is still the focal point of the offense, but they needed to change things up a little so defenses have something else to think about when facing the Heisman winner.
“We felt like there are some things in our offense that we weren’t able to execute at times last year or the year before,” Petrino said. “So we wanted to get better in our overall scheme of offense.
“I also feel like we need to take some pressure off of him where he doesn’t need to make a decision every single play out there, whether it’s throwing the ball and making the right decision or handing it off or keeping it or pitching it, making the right decision. So there’s some really good run schemes that you can do and some play action schemes you can do with the quarterback underneath the center.”
Petrino says the move is also to help Jackson get ready for the NFL.
“You know, there’s no doubt about that,” the Louisville coach said. “One of the things our coaching staff believes and one of our missions is to try to help kids get ready for the next level, you know, get their degree, grow up, and help them be a young man, and also prepare them for — if they’re lucky enough — to get to go to the NFL, prepare them so they understand how to go about their business in meetings, how to practice hard on the field and how to get ready for games.”
And don’t worry. Petrino is still going to make sure Jackson has an opportunity to make the same kind of plays last year that made him a Heisman Trophy winner.
“We do have a philosophy at the University of Louisville that we call FTS, which means ‘Feed The Studs.’ Obviously, Lamar is one of our studs. So don’t think that we’re not going to call quarterback run plays or zone read plays or option plays, because we’re going to give him his opportunities to make big plays and his opportunities to handle things that he did so well last year. We’re just trying to improve upon it and be a better overall offense.”
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