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Thursday morning Cardinal news and notes

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Mara Mitchell is getting ready for the biggest game of her 6-month life, and she knows proper stretching is of paramount importance.

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—Spread check: Clemson by 3.

—Reminder that our “Where We’re Watching” post for Clemson is going up tomorrow. If you have a game watch for Saturday night that you’d like to be included in the post, email it to me at MikeRuth5@aol.com.

—Shakin’ the Southland does a “hate” write-up before every game, and this guy reallllly doesn’t like Louisville. Read if you want to get fired up for Saturday, don’t if you’re susceptible to getting overly mad online.

—College Football News likes Clemson on Saturday, and they like them by a lot.

What’s Going To Happen

Lamar, meet Christian Wilkins, and Dorian O’Daniel, and Kendall Joseph, and Austin Bryant – who came up with four sacks last week against Auburn.

Jackson will have a few WOW moments, but there won’t be enough of them as the Clemson defensive front puts on another clinic.

Bryant will have another solid, effective day for a Tiger offense that just needs to be good enough so the defense can do the rest. In Papa John’s, Bryant and the attack will blow up.

Clemson vs. Louisville Prediction

Final Score

Clemson 38, Louisville 17

—Football aficionado Oliver Connonly writes that Lamar Jackson is the best player in college football and that he’s only getting better. He backs up his assertion with a whole lot of film study.

—Adidas is fired up.

—Rick Pitino is excited about his pro day next month, and is saying things that are going to have rival fans rolling their eyes.

"We’ll have double sessions that day," Pitino said. "They’ll be able to see two types of practices. We'll go from 10:00 to 12:00 and 4:00 to 6:00."

"It’ll be an extremely athletic practice, so they can gauge their one and one shooting abilities, they'll be a lot of scrimmage type situations as well as drills," Pitino added.

Pitino will have one of his deepest and most talented teams in 2017, led by juniors Deng Adeland Ray Spalding. Senior Anas Mahmoud, plus VJ King, Brian Bowen and Malik Williams are among their highest rated NBA prospects.

"I think I have five potential, legitimate NBA first round prospects on my team," Pitino said. "They are young, five to six, and I want them to have the pressure of being seen by a bunch of pro scouts at once and see how they perform under that microscope."

—The U of L women’s soccer team hosts Gardner-Webb tonight. Here’s a match preview.

—The definitive Alabama fan moment of 2017 ... so far.

—Scott Davenport announced Wednesday that Bellarmine will play Cincinnati in an exhibition game AT FREEDOM HALL on Nov. 1. Kyle Kuric bout to go off.

—Russ Smith has inked a deal with a new club in China.

Smith, the 6-foot guard who averaged 61.2 points per game last season in China's second-tier league, signed a one-year deal with the Fujian Sturgeons, who play in the top-flight Chinese Basketball Association.

"He's happy (because) he's playing and showing what he can do," Russ Smith Sr. said.

Fujian finished 15th in the 20-team CBA last season. The Sturgeons have had some other familiar names on their rosters in recent years, including New York legend Sebastian Telfair, former Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics guard Delonte West and longtime NBA veteran Al Harrington.

—The Crunch Zone examines the matchup between the Louisville offense and the Clemson defense.

—Tom Jurich will make the official announcement this afternoon, but Johnny Unitas has made the move to the party deck.

Should spend less time socializing and more time getting loud on 3rd down imo.

—Via Jody Demling, U of L assistant David Padgett was at Trinity on Wednesday to visit with class of 2019 recruit David Johnson.

—Vintage Louisville-Memphis State.

Sweet flying karate kick attempt, bro.

—Eric Wood made one of the best plays of the NFL’s opening weekend by throwing one Jet into another to prevent a pick six.

—Love it.

—Sports Illustrated writes about Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson and how their games might translate to the next level.

LAMAR JACKSON

Let’s start with the upside: He has incredible explosiveness for a quarterback, maybe the best of any prospect since Michael Vick left Virginia Tech for the NFL in 2001. And, as one scouting director said, “If we’re comparing him to Michael Vick in that regard, he’s really up there as a great athlete.”

As a passer, the ball jumps off Jackson’s hands with tight spin and good velocity, so arm strength will not be a problem.

What will be the problem? First, there’s his body. He’s listed at 6' 3" and 212 pounds, but looks a little shorter and lighter than that, and is built more like a basketball player than a football player, with a frame that may not lend itself to getting much bigger. The question then becomes whether or not you’ll be able to truly get the most out of his unique ability as a runner without risking injury.

And two, there’s translation to the NFL. As it stands now, he’s considered more raw than Patrick Mahomes was coming out of Texas Tech a year ago, which is to say he’s got a lot to learn. It doesn’t mean he can’t do it. It just means he’ll have to do it, and that makes him a projection.

Here’s my suggestion: Enjoy watching these two play while you can, because neither is as easy to plug into the NFL as Allen and Darnold and Rosen are. Though, conversely, it may not be smart to bet against them.

“You don’t want to count either guy out,” said one veteran evaluator, “because of how they’re wired.”

—Andrew Crum writes about the life of a Louisville fan living in the heart of Big Blue Nation.

—Nothing says Clemson week like a Matz Stockman Clemson ticket stub available on ebay for $2.95.

Buy that and keep it in your pocket for good luck on Saturday.

—A local man is accused of stealing $800 worth of Lamar Jackson jerseys Louisville No. 8 jerseys from the U of L bookstore on Floyd St. The shirt he’s wearing in his mugshot almost makes me not blame him.

—The latest NFL mock draft from CBS has Lamar Jackson going to the New York Giants in the middle of the first round.

17. New York Giants

Lamar Jackson, QB, Lousiville. Eli Manning is, well, let's say, now a liability for the Giants offense. In his last 10 games (nine from 2016 and the 2017 season opener), the former No. 1 overall pick has completed 63.1 percent of his passes at just 6.18 yards per attempt with 18 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a passer rating of 84.3. Jackson is the antithesis of Eli; he's an excellent scrambler and has taken a step forward from the pocket. He'll instantly gel with Odell Beckham Jr. in the Big Apple.

—U of L men’s tennis makes an appearance in the preseason ITA rankings.

—This is an extremely baller look, Jax.

Do the kids still say “baller?” If they don’t I’m sure it will be relevant again by the time Jax is able to read this. Shit’s cyclical.

—Deion Branch recently had a chance to speak with Lamar Jackson, and he gave No. 8 some advice based on his own personal experience of playing with Tom Brady.

Branch has taken an active role in mentoring Jackson. That loss to Kentucky was an immediate opportunity.

"He made a couple mistakes in the game," Branch says. "One of his biggest things that he and I spoke about is not trying to make every play. You can't do that. You've got other teammates around you, who you have to count on. You've got to count on these guys. They count on you to do your job. You got to do your part, as well."

Branch won two Super Bowls and was MVP when the Patriots beat the Eagles in February 2005. He played 11 NFL seasons, six and a half in New England. In short, Branch has seen a superstar quarterback at work. He can convey that knowledge to Jackson.

"Just stay composed, make sure you just continue to just go in and lead the team," Branch says. "These guys will follow. They’re going to do exactly what you say. Given some of the things that I was around, that I was prone to see with Tom [Brady], the way he carried himself, just trying to push that onto him."

—True freshman linebacker Dorian Etheridge has already established himself as a pivotal piece of the Cardinal defense.

—That’s, uh, not Louisville at the 9-second mark.

—Shannon Sharpe referred to Lamar as “Michael Vick with a better arm” on Wednesday.

—Our old friend Ian Klarer is now the man responsible for all the album artwork for the successful group Run the Jewels. Congrats to Ian on all his success.

—It all starts tomorrow night.

—Five NFL executives were asked who the best player on the field during the Louisville-Clemson game is going to be. Three said Lamar Jackson, two said Clemson’s Christian Wilkins.

—ESPN’s Trevor Matich joins the masses saying (video) that Lamar looks more dangerous this year than he did a season ago.

—Ba-zing.

—U of L men’s soccer will host Military Appreciation Night at Lynn Stadium next week.

—ESPN says the NCAA symposium is another sign of college basketball taking the next step toward working with the NBA.

—Shakin’ the Southland’s full preview of Saturday’s game is quite thorough.

The Prediction:

Clemson is the more talented team. Louisville has the most electric player in the country playing the most important position in football. The game is at night on the road. It won’t be easy.

Clemson is 3-0 against Louisville since they joined the ACC, and all have been fantastic games. This should be another.

While Louisville’s offense has been fantastic through two games, their defense has struggled. Losing DC Todd Grantham only to hire the defensive coordinator Mississippi State was replacing seems like a tough downgrade for a program with impressive athletic department revenues. Grantham had done a particularly good job of slowing Clemson’s offense in past matchups too.

Much like the the task Jalen Hurts faced in the 2017 National Championship game, Kelly Bryant will be faced with out-dueling an ultra-elite QB, but will have several talent advantages around him to help him do it. In this case, those talent advantages, particularly on defense, will be more vast than in the National Championship game. Clemson’s defense not only averages 0.52 stars more than Louisville’s, but they benefit from having the best defensive coordinator in the country. On top of that, they’ll put their strength - an outstanding D-line - up against a green behind the ears Louisville O-line.

Lamar Jackson will be running for his life, and will probably run into the end zone while doing it. He is the type of transcendent talent that can carry an offense. Clemson won’t have the luxury of playing conservatively and settling for a win in a defensive struggle like they did against Auburn. Fortunately, Kelly Bryant is proving to be a quality QB himself. Facing a vulnerable defense, expect him to connect on just enough key passes to get the job done and pull the favorites (-2.5) through for a big win in the national spotlight.

—Southern Pigskin says all signs point towards yet another barnburner between the Cards and Tigers.

—Well they don’t play football on any other planets that we know of, ESPN. We haven’t even discovered life anywhere else. I enjoy the graphic though. Sorry for busting your balls. That wasn’t fair. It’s been a long week and I’m ready for this game.

—Eat it.

—Double eat it.

That’s not even L’s down, that’s some sort of pro-Clemson butt stuff gesture. Chotches.

—The first U of L baseball fall notebook is here.

—Kolby is pumped.

—USA Today looks at the matchup between Clemson’s defensive stoppers and Louisville’s offensive weapons.

—Nothing gets me more fired up in the middle of a huge U of L football game week than previewing Virginia Tech basketball, so I did that yesterday. The Hokies are No. 21 on SB Nation’s preseason countdown.

—Donovan Mitchell talks about Louisville and his relationship with Lamar Jackson.

—U of L-Clemson will be a “clash of the titans.”

—Deion Branch will be taking pictures and signing autographs today from 4-6 at the Walmart on Bashford Manor Ln.

—Lindy’s serves up its preview for Saturday.

—Tar Heel Blog reviews the film from UNC’s loss to Louisville.

—The videos just keep rolling in.

—The addition of Louisville continues to pay off for the ACC.

—The State looks at how Clemson will try to slow down the Cardinal offense.

“The key thing is you want to minimize his opportunities, and we didn’t do a good job of that last year,” Swinney said. “Hopefully, we can do a little better job of taking care of the ball and maximizing our opportunities when they present themselves.”

When Jackson does have the ball, Clemson believes the key is keeping him in the pocket.

“We’re going to try to keep him in the pocket and try to make him beat us with his arm throwing the ball,” Tigers cornerback Ryan Carter said. “We know what he can do when he tucks it and runs it.”

Of course, doing so is easier said than done.

Jackson is “wiry strong” according to several Clemson defenders and is also elusive in the open field.

“He breaks a lot of tackles, is really fast, can stop on a dime, make cuts, just do a lot of different things,” Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said. “He did some impressive stuff that most players can’t do, let alone quarterbacks.”

Defensive end Clelin Ferrell added the Tigers can’t depend on one defender to bring Jackson down.

“Obviously, you know what he can do with his feet, he can make any move you want, all the juke moves … You’ve really got to gang tackle a guy like that,” Ferrell said.

—Clemson has been good but dramatic on the road under Dabo Swinney.

—SI’s Chris Johnson says that despite his torrid start, Lamar Jackson still has plenty of obstacles in the way of a second straight Heisman Trophy. Well, yeah, like 10 games.

—The Tigers were happy to walk out of Death Valley with a W a year ago, but they’re hoping to avoid a shootout this go-round.

—Show it to me again. I want to see it again.

—And finally, beat Clemson.