Jackson needs Louisville teammates to share spotlight

Experience has taught long-time University of Louisville diehards that it’s best to keep those expectations in check. This one still hasn’t recovered from the disappointing end of the 2016 football season.

Lamar Jackson can’t do it all by himself (Charlie Springer photo).

Three humiliating defeats, including a loss to the University of Kentucky and two games (Houston and LSU) in which the Cardinals were never competitive. The loss to UK occurring after UofL’s Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson coughed up the ball on Wildcats’ 10-yard line.

The worst possible way to end a season. Demoralizing, plunging from sight after being  considered a serious college playoff contender most of the season. A large dose of humble pie for those who dared to envision the ultimate for UofL football.

But that was last year. Here we go again, with UofL kicking off fall camp on Monday in preparation for a new season. Time to put the past behind, look to the future, trusting that Bobby Petrino figured out what happened to his team. Not allow it to happen again. The coach having shuffled his coaching staff during the off season, bringing in some new faces and fresh approaches.

If 2016 taught us anything, it was that having college football’s most elusive quarterback  is no guarantee of success. Jackson was the first player in Football Bowl Series (FBS) history with 3,300 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards in a season, running for 21 touchdowns and passing for 30 more TDs. Incredible numbers.

Never doubt, however, that someone on the Florida State coaching staff hasn’t spent the last year reviewing game film from UofL’s 63-10 win over the Seminoles last season. Jackson ran for four touchdowns and passed for a fifth in that one. That won’t happen again against FSU.

Good that the game was early. While Jackson was putting all those points on the board, his offensive line was regressing, making it more difficult for him at the end of the season. Some argue that he had already clinched the Heisman Trophy before the collapse. He was lucky to find the line of scrimmage as the curtain closed on the season.

Maybe opposing coaches had just figured out how to manage Jackson, knowing that if they could contain him they could stop Louisville. He definitely was not the threat at the end of the season that he was during the first half of the year.

No one, certainly not this observer, doubts that Jackson is a team player. He was always more critical of himself than his coaches were, even when he was accumulating all those touchdowns. Needing to work within the system perhaps, instead of so much freelancing, knowing how to take advantage of his teammates instead of taking it all upon himself.

One suspects that Lamar Jackson would be okay with not repeating as the Heisman Trophy winner if, in the process, he can make his teammates better players. Even if that means fewer touchdowns, accolades and personal highlight reels.

Jackson has been there, done the Heisman thing, but it was not quite what it was could have been, not with that disappointing end for his team last season.

Petrino excited as fall camp begins, really

Bobby Petrino has been everywhere the past two weeks, talking up University of Louisville football, indicating that he’s eagerly anticipating the 2015 season.

And, yes, he is excited. Always the first thing he says, about being excited, how loves this group of players, the attitude, the leadership, the commitment and the good work ethic. One last press conference on Wednesday. The talking is behind him now, with fall football camp opening on Thursday.

Video from TheCrunchzone

Jawon Pass picks the Louisville hat

At the big announcement Thursday, Jawon Pass kept shuffling the hats on the table in front of him, hats from Louisville, Alabama and Auburn. He seemed to give the UofL hat a little extra care, placing it in the middle.

Over the past few months, Pass had received offers from 20 schools, arriving at his final three after eliminating such programs as Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, LSU, Clemson, Miami, North Carolina, Texas A&M and Virginia Tech.Screenshot 2015-07-16 16.10.12

The pressure from top programs was relentless. Pass had just visited Alabama the day before his announcement, Auburn during the past week. In the end, Alabama and Auburn would not make the cut.

When time came to make his decision, UofL fans held their breath as Pass slowly declared,

“For the next three or four years, I will be attending … the … University … of … Louisville.”

Carefully and lovingly placing the red hat with the Cardinal logo on his head to stay, confident in his decision.

There it was, Bobby Petrino, along with assistants Garrick McGee and L. D. Scott, had won one of the school’s biggest recruiting battles ever, over two of college football’s most respected programs. A five-star quarterback who checks in at an impressive 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds with 4.5 speed is on his way to Louisville.

Pass said he chose UofL for a number of reasons, including his respect for the UofL coaching staff, which he believes will prepare him for the next level. It didn’t hurt UofL that his brother, Khane Pass, had committed to UofL in August last year and will be a freshman safety of the roster this season.

Major college football recruiting, being what it is, fans can expect some programs to continue to recruit Jawon Pass. But they will probably be wasting their time. The commitment seems to be pretty solid in favor of Louisville. He loves that UofL hat.

“It’s a good fit for me,” Pass said. “I’ve got a good relationship with the coaches and that’s just where my heart was at.”

Adidas tinkers with the Cardinal Bird

Screenshot 2015-06-25 11.14.47

The thing about being one of the top programs aligned with Adidas is that you’re going to be among the first by whom the new is tried and not the last to cast the old aside.

UofL will continue to be a guinea pig for new uniform concepts , subject to all kinds of artistic whims and marketing concepts — some good, some bad, some awful. The latest was unveiled Thursday with the “Uncaged Cardinal Primeknit strategy football uniform,” which will make its debut on Saturday, September 5th vs. Auburn.

There’s only so much that be done with a football uniform beside the basic Primekit material, “a proprietary yarn blend that increases durability and abrasion resistance.” Adidas says it keeps players cool and increases the range of motion, providing an unrivaled level of comfort and allowing athletes to perform at their highest levels.

Maybe so. Nice if that works out.

The designers, however, felt compelled to transform the traditional Cardinal logo on the helmets and the shoes to a creature with which most of us are unfamiliar. One of the first rules of design is not to mess with or alter a corporate logo because it is the lasting impression the client wishes to convey. Adidas explains that the “Uncaged Cardinal” is to represent the football team’s style of play, fierce, attacking and always on the offensive.

The white uniforms were the only images provided by Adidas, so maybe UofL will be the home team on the scoreboard.

There’s no indication whether the uniform design is a one-game wonder for the Chick-fil-A event, or for all games. That may depend on how well the opening game goes for the Cardinals.

Strong drink for Louisville football fans

Maker’s Mark is finally coming through for University of Louisville football fans.

A special edition honoring Coach Charlie Strong will be available July 20th and sold out shortly thereafter.

A great time to have a close friend in the beverage industry.