LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Lamar Jackson had one of the best seasons in college football history in 2016, a season that culminated with the prestigious Heisman Trophy.
The University of Louisville quarterback is considered a longshot to repeat in 2017, but through nine games, his numbers aren't that far off of last year's pace.
In 2016, he had 2,753 yards passing and 1,181 yards rushing for a nine-game total of 3,934 yards and had accounted for 45 touchdowns.
So far this season, through nine games, Jackson has 2,808 yards passing, 55 more than he had at the same point last season. He currently has 1,029 yards rushing. So the total for this season is 3,837 yards, just 97 fewer than at the same point in 2016. He has 32 touchdowns so far, 13 off his 2016 pace.
He is without question a better, more refined player.
"I try to sit in the pocket a lot more and try to go through all my reads, not one or two," he said. "I try to read everything and try to check the ball down also, still haven't gotten to that yet."
Jackson has not spent much time thinking about a Heisman repeat.
"I won one, that's about it, I don't really think about it as much," Jackson said. "I just feel it's an award I achieved, and since a kid I always wanted to probably win one, but I never thought it would happen, but it happened and I'm just grateful."
His team was 8-1 through nine games last season but is just 5-4 this year. The difference has been a UofL defense that is struggling under first-year coordinator Peter Sirmon. However, Jackson is not about to start pointing fingers.
"We're all a team," he said. "We started this together, we're going to finish it together."
The Heisman finalists are announced in a little more than three weeks. Jackson may or may not be on that list, but he will be welcome as a Heisman winner. He's not sure if he'll make the trip.
"I like the city atmosphere, people and the horns, the cars, it's a busy city, people just walking around, people on the sidewalks, just selling stuff, people trying to get you buy stuff, they're performing, it's just crazy," he recalls. "The pizza is good. Something about those New York ingredients, it's different."
He does have a Heisman vote, but isn't ready to make his pick just yet, however he might have given us a hint.
"I already know Saquon (Barkley)," Jackson said. "Me and him played on an All-Star team together; he was my fullback at the time."
Barkley, Penn State's star running back, is one of the top candidates in 2017. He's second in the nation, averaging 195.7 all-purpose yards per game.
The Cards (5-4, 2-4 ACC) return to action on Saturday against Virginia (6-3, 3-2 ACC). Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
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