A few weeks ago, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson announced he would be forgoing his senior season and entering the 2018 NFL Draft. Jackson had an illustrious career at Louisville, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016, finishing as a finalist in 2017, and accounting for 119 touchdowns in less than three full seasons. Regardless of his performance in the NFL, Jackson will be remembered as one of the best college quarterbacks of all-time. However, when reviewing his career at Louisville, I get the feeling the Cardinals did not take full advantage of his talents.
Jackson started 33 games during his time at Louisville. The Cardinals won 22 of his starts. That’s not bad. Any number of schools would certainly ‘settle’ for winning two thirds of their games. However, outside of one historic home game a breakout bowl performance, Louisville never really beat any good teams during Jackson’s tenure. The following table lists the teams Louisville beat in games Jackson started. The table also lists the final record of those teams and their SRS ranking for that particular year.
I am not blaming Lamar Jackson for the dearth of Louisville’s team accomplishments. In fact, Jackson deserves great praise for a game that is not listed here. In his freshman season, Jackson began the annual rivalry game with Kentucky on the bench before rallying his team from a 21-0 deficit. If you want to blame someone, try Bobby Petrino. Fault him for not surrounding Jackson with enough talent, particularly on defense and along the offensive line, to take advantage of a transcendent talent.