Then we gave him some opportunities you can’t give a guy. And in the case of this victory, we have no shortage. While he’s famous for what he can do as a runner, Jackson’s ability as a pure passer was evident on Saturday. Williams added 149 yards on 13 carries.
If there was one positive to come out of the game for UNC, it was the play of its quarterbacks. Jackson became just the second quarterback in FBS history – and first from a Power 5 team – to throw for 300 and run for 100 in back-to-back games.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Jackson, in fact, looked like a longer, leaner version of the 6-foot, 210-pound Vick on a third-quarter 43-yard dash for a touchdown in which he exploded through the line of scrimmage and simply outran defensive backs’ pursuit angles once into the open field. Tyree Kinnel had a 28-yard return in the first quarter and Lavert Hill had a 24-yard return late in the fourth quarter. The next he broke outside for 74 yards before being pushed out of bounds.
“I was proud about all the other things he did”, coach Bobby Petrino said, “understanding what coverages there were, there even one time where he checked a protection and we weren’t really in the right protection”. And whether the defense rebounds from its disappointing season debut will depend in no small part on how it fares against Jackson.
Jones responded with touchdowns on the Blue Devils’ next three possessions – 52-yard pass to Chris Taylor and scoring runs of 11 and 4 yards_to get Duke out to a 21-10 halftime lead.
If we were grading on a scale created just for U of L’s line, Saturday’s performance would be an A. Louisville gave up two sacks and seven tackles for loss, and center Robbie Bell had some early struggles snapping the ball, but Jackson had plenty of time to throw the ball and the running game averaged 7.1 yards per carry. The next highest was 251 for Harry Doulas in 2007.
“Lamar Jackson is every bit as good as everybody says he is and thinks he is”, UNC coach Larry Fedora said. We understand that. We’re prepared for that, which is why we got quite a few guys in the game last week. Sophomore Seth Dawkins and freshman Dez Fitzpatrick are deep threats, they each had four grabs last week, and Fitzpatrick had a touchdown catch. The 525 yards were the most ever given up in a game by the Tar Heels.
“Whenever I hear my formation and my number called in the huddle, I’m going to be ready”, he said.
“I know past year beating us for them was like the Super Bowl”. But the pass still had to be excellent – and it was, with Jackson leading Smith and putting him in great position to run into the end zone unencumbered. “It was just a lack of execution”, said linebacker Cayson Collins, citing a problems in communication for the multiple coverage breakdowns.
“We’ll see how they handle this week in practice”. It is how easy he sometimes makes playing the game of football look. These were the stars of most pregame discussions surrounding the Cards, and they were seldom mentioned after kickoff.
The claim is that the personnel, coaches and leadership are all better than they were during a defensively-atrocious 2014 – the last season Gene Chizik WASN’T UNC’s defensive coordinator – but the pieces haven’t come together yet in a way that speaks to that at all that being true. They finished with 6 penalties for 61 yards. But, as a group, they’ll be disappointed that UNC got so much yardage through the air.