Science and them academic schools have proven it time and time again. If one is to succeed as an athletic star, then they must have a name that can be easily transformed into some culturally entertaining or visually creative nickname. Number eight for the Cardinals has officially changed his legal name to Lamar Action Jackson. After an unsuccessful part one, several questionable spinoffs on his own, and a failed sequel, Action Jackson finally saved the world and the Cardinals from a bowl bound Kentucky Football. Lamar settled the debate Saturday in A.J. part III and when the scoreboard read 38-24, the case was closed. This is his team and the future has never been brighter.
2015 will stand alongside 2011 and be viewed as the launching of an era of success and championship chasing. The Cardinals finished 7-5 in a rebuilding year against their toughest schedule ever and most importantly denied their rivals a bowl game. Positivity and momentum is back on Louisville's sideline as the coaches hit the recruiting trail and fans prepare for the Music City Bowl in Nashville (my prediction).
Lamar Jackson is now the face of this program, just as Teddy was by the end of 2011. Action broke the school record for total offense by a freshman, beating out Redman and Bridgewater, and also set the freshman rushing record. He has quite the presence and confidence for an 18 year old and is constantly a split second from making a game changing play.
As Louisville and Jackson move forward towards the bowl game and a very important offseason, the goals and to-do's for Louisville Football are as follows:
1. Action Jackson should spend every day, every night, and every dream mastering his footwork.
Lamar is 18 years old and in the midst of evolving into a franchise quarterback for a minimum of two more seasons. I argue he is a better passer than given credit, but he still relies too much on his athleticism and instincts when making plays with his arm. Jackson throws more passes off his back foot than Brett Favre and usually abandons all mechanics when on the run for his life.
For Louisville to take that next leap into the upper echelon of football, Lamar must learn to play under center and be just as effective with his arm as he is with his feet. He must also focusing on getting stronger from head to toe, and if possible, get even faster. If Jackson can start visualizing 3-step-drops, 5-step-drops, and 7-step-drops in his sleep while concurrently remembering to plant and align his feet with the target, then Louisville can finally reclaim their spot atop the offensive envy ladder in college football.
2. Recruit, recruit, recruit, and recruit.
Even though Bobby's first two seasons back at Louisville haven't produced dream results, it cannot be debated that Charlie Strong was a putrid recruiter his final two seasons and Coach Petrino and staff are doing a phenomenal job on the trail. P.J. Blue gave the staff a massive commitment earlier this week and with several SEC coaching hot seats and vacancies, do not be surprised to see the Cardinals land some more surprises.
Football recruiting is brutal and doesn't mean anything until mid-February, but Petrino knows exactly what his team needs and his staff is out there filling those holes. Defensive secondary aside, offensive linemen have to be the priority over the next two months. It is impossible to make a run at a championship without future NFL hogs up front, and Louisville's quarterbacks cannot survive another season of being obliterated by defensive ends while having zero ground game to rely upon. Good luck coaches, keep up the good work.
3. Win the bowl game.
2015 was an uneven season in terms of positivity and momentum, but Louisville finished the regular season in perfect fashion by smashing Lexington's greatest hopes and dreams. It appears likely that Louisville will head to Nashville and face a SEC foe. Finishing the year 8-5 with back to back wins over the SEC would be a crucial recruiting pitch and would certainly provide a strong launching pad into the 2016 season. Also, with Tom Jurich having announced plans for the stadium expansion, the football program needs to continue to show increased demand for season tickets. Winning the bowl game should entice a few more fence straddlers to take the plunge into legitimate fandom. The fans will be Honky-Tonkin in force and if the Cardinals close out 2015 winning eight of their last 10 games, watch out.
4. Retain the staff.
With the college football coaching carousel as volatile as ever, it is vital for Coach Petrino to keep his assistants intact. No coach is above criticism, but every member of the staff has proven their worth and built strategic recruiting relationships. Grantham and Klenakis received the most heat from fans, but Klenakis deserves a chance to coach an offensive line that isn't anchored by a walk-on center. Grantham had his moments of letting us down, but you cannot disregard the fact that the defense won Louisville the UK, N.C. State, Boston College, and Wake Forest Games. Grantham can also claim several current NFL players and to recruits, that's all that matters.
I may be a week late, but I am thankful for Carl Weathers, Lamar Action Jackson, and shattering the Christmas wishes of every member of big blue nation. The Cardinals are building for the future and have an opportunity to crash the playoff party in 2016. Next season starts now and in this era of endless big budgeted sequels, count me in the majority that will never get enough Action Jackson.
All Hail UofL !!