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  • Jackson Avenges Loss, Dominates Kentucky


    How good is Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson?

    Well, he won the Heisman Trophy in 2016 and he’s been just as good, or maybe better, this season. He shredded Kentucky’s defense for 156 yards rushing and 216 yards passing in Saturday’s 44-17 win that was even easier than the final score indicates.

    “To me, he is the best player that you’re ever going to see. His ability to throw the ball, run the ball – there is nobody that has been like him and there will be nobody for awhile before you see somebody that’s like him again,” Petrino said.

    Kentucky coach Mark Stoops didn’t disagree.

    “I can't recall defending anybody as talented as he is. Yeah, it's tough. As we all know, they're a good football team that's well coached, but then it's really difficult when things break down or you've got them covered or got them stopped, and he just absolutely makes you miss and gets bunches of yards,” Stoops, a former defensive coordinator at Florida State, said.

    “It's heartbreaking, and it is frustrating, especially with them being our rival in a heated game. He can aggravate you.

    “You have to recognize him as last year as the best player in college football, and this year, I imagine, he'll be in New York (for the Heisman ceremony) as well, and he deserves to be there. He is a real talent.

    “What's very hard is you have to be so disciplined in your rushes, and then he stretches the field and still can distribute the ball. When it does break down and he gets those yards, that's where it's really crushing, and he's done that for two years and some change.”

    Kentucky junior linebacker Josh Allen has had little success stopping Jackson the last two years. But he said he wants to face him again in college — which is unlikely with Jackson likely headed to the NFL draft — or in the NFL.

    “I’m looking forward to playing him again. I know he’s going to be a heck of a player at the next level. I’m looking forward to playing against him again, because I have to get my rematch. He’s a heck of a player.
    He’s a great player and he had a good team today. He can throw, he can run, he’s versatile and he showed it,” Allen said.

    He did. He made pinpoint passes. He scrambled away from defenders and either completed passes or went for big runs. He didn’t shy away from contact and didn’t let a verbal and physical sideline altercation with UK linebacker Jordan Jones bother him.

    “Lamar Jackson is one heck of a player. He’s a resilient and tough player. We give those guys all the credit,” Kentucky linebacker Courtney Love said.
    Petrino said Jackson surprises him daily with his play.

    “Every day in practice he’ll do something or he’ll turn around and look at me and comment on his knowledge of the passing game and what he would like the receiver to do or what the corner did. It is just so much fun to watch how much he’s grown,” Petrino said.

    “The ultimate competitor. I don’t think I’ve ever been around someone that competes like he does and backs it up with confidence and is so humble. He is the most humble guy. Even last week’s game, watching them at the Syracuse game, he was on the sideline cheering and encouraging every guy out there after he came off the field. So he’s just the greatest teammate and greatest kid in the world.”

    He also wanted to make sure he helped the Cardinals avenge last year’s loss to Kentucky. The Wildcats drove for the winning field goal after Jackson’s fumble when it looked like Louisville was set to score the go-ahead touchdown. He’s lived with that memory for a year.

    “It meant a lot (to win). I was ready for them. Our whole team, we went out there and practiced. We were just executing a lot. We had perfect practices, I’ll say almost every day, and we just came out here and we showed it,” Jackson said.

    The Louisville junior quarterback said he appreciated the praise from his head coach.

    “It just makes me grind harder. If he looks at me that way, if my teammates look at me that way, I just gotta stay that way and own up to what he said,” Jackson said.

    And he certainly did that against Kentucky.