By LARRY VAUGHT
Louisville is one of five ranked teams on the Kentucky football schedule. Even though the Wildcats don’t face Louisville until the final game of the season, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit had some interesting insights on the Cards and quarterback Lamar Jackson during a media teleconference Wednesday.
“They’re the sleeper this year in the ACC with all the talk about Florida State and Clemson. There are a lot of people talking about Florida State and Clemson both getting into the (national championship) playoff,” Herbstreit said.
“I think this year the ACC is deep as I can remember it. Because, while everybody wants to talk about Florida State and Clemson, there is Louisville who is obviously going to be competitive,
“We know about Lamar Jackson. They’ve got all the skill coming back. I expect James Quick to have a big year this year. I really think that they get Florida State at an interesting time. I was at the game two years ago when they played on a Thursday night and they had Florida State on the ropes and it looked like they might win that game. And Papa John Stadium, it was live and it looked like this was going to be their moment and they just couldn’t hold on.
“I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be another game like that. We’ll see this time if Bobby Petrino’s team can find a way, and then a couple weeks later they’re on the road at Death Valley and Clemson. So they’re going to know really where they stand within the first five weeks of the season, and whether or not they have what it takes to be competitive enough to be that surprise team and push Florida State or Clemson down. They get a chance to play them both.
So other than those two games, I know they have Houston late in the year. I mean, worst-case scenario, I can’t imagine this team not getting to 10 wins this year. So I think they’re going to have a great year, and I think it’s going to come down to how they play against Florida State and how they do on the road against Clemson.”
Herbstreit says Jackson is not a typical Petrino quarterback because of his ability to run.
“I feel like when I watch him, you better hold your breath when he takes off to run with the football. I think he averaged close to six yards a carry a year ago. What’s ironic is Bobby Petrino’s known over the years of having quarterbacks, whether they’re dual-threat guys or pocket guys, he’s trying to find ways to dissect a defensive secondary to throw the football,” Herbstreit said.
“To me, I think Lamar Jackson, if I were coaching him, and I’m sure this is what they’re focused on, it’s really more about consistency. I think at the latter part of the year, we start to see them really figure out his skill set. I think in the last five games they average like 35 points a game. In the first few games it was more like 28 points a game. So I think they have a handle on what he does well.
“I still want to watch Lamar play more this year to see more of him and to see how he develops as a passer before I really compare him to anybody.”