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Thursday evening Cardinal news and notes

I'm good with anything that involves Lamar Jackson and Russ Smith.

I_medium Spread check: Louisville by 34.5.

I_medium Taquan Dean wrote a piece for Hoops Hype in which he explains how he just discovered the true identity of his biological father at age 33, and why he's now changing his name to Taqwa Piniero. It's very much worth your time.

I_medium hands out some college football midseason awards, and not surprisingly, Lamar Jackson is featured prominently.

Heisman Trophy Candidates

The Favorite: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The Heisman Trophy race can turn in a single week, so it's premature to hand the award now to the Cardinals' dynamic dual-threat quarterback. That said, Jackson is producing touchdowns at such a dizzying pace (14 passing, 14 rushing in five games), it's getting less likely by the week that he'll be overtaken.


Offensive Player of the Year: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

The true sophomore is simply the most electrifying player in the game. When you average 325 yards passing and 138 rushing per game, you're as close to unstoppable as one player can be. And he hasn't lit up the scoreboard against weak opponents only; FSU and Clemson were unable to contain him.

I_medium Eat it, Georgia Tech.

I_medium Randall Cunningham, one of my childhood idols, is the latest to come out and publicly send praise in the direction of Lamar Jackson.

He said he can envision Jackson also developing into a high-level NFL passer someday.

"Oh yeah, without a doubt," Cunningham said. "It's just very similar. The kid is an NFL-quality player. He's a first-round draft pick."

In his second season as head coach at Silverado High School, Cunningham hasn't always gotten to watch Louisville's full games, but he has caught highlights when he can. He said he's become a big fan of Jackson.

When a reporter first brought up the premise to Cunningham that Jackson's game seems reminiscent of his own, Cunningham replied, "Oh, wow. Thanks a lot."

"The kid is amazing," he said. "It's hard for me to compare him to myself and pump him up because it sounds like I'm pumping myself up. But he's his own unique person. He's my favorite. I'm a high school fan, a college fan, and I'm an Eagle fan. I pull for one team, and that's my team. Then I pull for players. He's definitely at the top of my list in the college ranks, period. Number 1."Cunningham appears bullish on U of L's future with Jackson behind center.

"I tell you what," Cunningham said, "with his success, if they keep bringing in quality players as his support system, and the team remains humble, they have a chance to be at the tip-top of the game, win a major bowl game, BCS, all that good stuff."

Cunningham said he would like the chance to speak to Jackson at some point and offer words of encouragement.

"And I would like to get his jersey," Cunningham said with a laugh. "If you could sell me a jersey of his that I could wear around, that would be pretty cool."

Don't let Randall down, Steve Jones.

I_medium Tickets for the 2016-17 U of L basketball tip-off luncheon are now available.

I_medium Even at scrimmages, there's always one ... or, like, 40.

I_medium Fox Sports says there are only eight teams in the country good enough to win the college football national title. Louisville is on the list, but they're also the only one of the eight that doesn't control its own destiny.

Louisville Cardinals

Louisville is the only team on this list that doesn't control their own destiny. The Cardinals will need some combination of a Clemson collapse or chaos from the rest of college football to get into the playoff. But if they do get there, watch out. 

The Cardinals have the most explosive offense, a unit that leads the nation in both scoring (58 points per game) and yardage (659) and a defense that ranks 20th nationally. As Louisville showed against Clemson two weeks ago, they can play with any team in any venue. They might have been the better team in Death Valley. 

Louisville's path to the playoff seems to be littered with pot holes going forward. But don't underestimate them.

I_medium Cole Hikutini has been named to the John Mackey Award (best tight end) Midseason Watch List.

I_medium Steve Jones predicts a 45-20 Cardinal victory Friday night.

I_medium I was watching this last night and lost it.

I_medium ACC women's basketball stars say thank you to the game.

I_medium The Sporting News has Louisville as the ninth-best program in college basketball since 2000.

Total score: 41

Last year: 9

Final Fours: 3 (2005, 2012, 2013*)

Trending: Slightly down. The Cardinals still rank 11th in the nation in winning percentage since 2000-01, but Louisville is coming off a season in which they were ineligible for the NCAA tournament. That came after four straight seasons of reaching the Sweet 16 or better.

Duke is No. 1 and North Carolina is No. 2.

I_medium previews this weekend's games.

I_medium More David Cutcliffe praise from yesterday.

"I've coached against, I don't know, over 10 national championship teams," Cutcliffe said. "We've played quite a few good teams since we've been here. I really mean it.

"I haven't seen anybody with the weapons and completeness that this Louisville team has. There's a reason they're playing as well as they are. So that combination has been lethal for them."

College Football Playoff selection committee, are you listening?

Keep in mind that Cutcliffe coached against Jimbo Fisher's 2013 Florida State team, which went 14-0, won the last-ever BCS national championship and was led by Jameis Winston, who claimed the Heisman Trophy that season.

No matter what transpires the rest of the season, the Cardinals have been an impressive bunch despite the wild—and close—loss to Clemson a few weeks ago. And no one Cardinal has stood out more than Jackson.

Cutcliffe was asked on Wednesday if he's ever been around or seen a quarterback quite like Jackson.

"You know, I don't know that there are many that mimic all of his skills because he is just such a great runner with such great speed to go along with all of those quarterback skills," he said.

"I didn't work with him, but in the impact that a guy has on the game I just recall Charlie Ward having an impact that just was incredible for those Florida State teams, particularly that one year.

"In my history, the guy that had kind of the physical tools was Heath Shuler back in the early '90s at Tennessee. But, again, this young man is just incredible athletically."

I_medium James Burgess will be in the house tomorrow night.

I_medium It also appears as though Deion Branch will be there.

I_medium Close enough, Ken.

I_medium Jeff Greer gives his thoughts on last night's scrimmage.

I_medium The Associated Press previews Louisville-Duke.

I_medium Not the biggest English L fan, but these helmets are pretty .... boss? I want to say boss.


I_medium SI has a really good story on Notre Dame's Corey Robinson (David's son), and why he passed up on playing for the Irish as a senior.

I_medium In video form, ESPN looks at just how impressive Lamar Jackson has been thus far.

I_medium Looking forward to more stuff like this from the U of L social media team this year.

I_medium NFL Draft expert Matt Miller lists Devonte Fields as the biggest faller in his rankings of the draft-eligible edge rushers in college football.

I_medium Marilyn Payne of WRAL Sports gives her preview of Friday night's game.

I_medium Always enjoy these CCBM shots.

I've also had a handful of people submit this photo of the CCBM doing its modeling thing.

Yes, I've also seen the Moby photo from Rolling Stone. CCBM is going global. Lamar effect.

I_medium Senorise Perry has been signed to the Miami Dolphins practice squad.

I_medium U of L previews Friday night's game in 60 seconds.

I_medium Kyle Kuric is lighting it up in the Euro Cup.

I_medium Here's hoping Louisville ruins ACC Sportsmanship Week for everybody tomorrow night by winning by 100.

I_medium I really enjoy the Gorgui Dieng/Karl Anthony Towns relationship.

The Timberwolves take on the Heat in exhibition play Saturday night at 7:30 inside the KFC Yum Center.

I_medium David Cutcliffe says he thinks he could slow down the Louisville offense if he was allowed to use 14 defenders.

I_medium And finally, beat Duke.