I arrived at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta not really knowing what to expect. As a Cards fan, I knew this place has a great vibe for us; it’s the same place I stood in awe in 2013 watching the confetti fall as the University of Louisville won the Men’s Basketball National Championship. Those memories were vivid as I looked around. I could even remember where I sat. I could feel the weight of the crown on my head as I jumped up and down cheering almost in disbelief. It was surely a great time. I knew standing there in the Georgia Dome on Saturday that we would witness something special. Again, Louisville entered this building as the underdog — a 10-point underdog the last I saw — facing an SEC giant, Auburn.
As my fiancé and I stood in line at Jim ‘N Nick’s for some pregame grub, an Auburn fan walked by and asked where we were from. Sporting red, white and black, I responded proudly, “Louisville.” We shared good lucks and anticipation of a good game, and then he said it: “We know you all are really a basketball school.” Slightly offended and knowing that Louisville is unique in that we are pretty solid in most sports, I responded, “Well, our football team is pretty solid too. Don’t overlook us too swiftly.” He laughed, as did I, and I hoped the team would prove me right.
Boy, was I glad that fan wasn’t sitting next to me during the first half! I think all Cards fans had significant knots in our stomachs, thinking this could be a long season. But if I know nothing else about Bobby Petrino teams, I know that they don’t quit! When I said that I arrived not knowing what to expect, I meant I had no idea what our team would look like. I knew that we took a significant hit with players declaring for the NFL draft. I knew the ongoing quarterback saga and I had heard about our SEC transfers. What I had not been prepared for was the emergence of Lamar Jackson as a star in the making.
Deleting the first offensive play of the game from our memories, this guy was amazing. What first struck me was his confidence and poise. He played almost with a chip on his shoulder, playing to prove he belonged on that large of a stage and playing to prove he deserved the starting quarter back job. Jackson was elusive; his passing was accurate and he broke tackles left and right. I sat there thinking, this guy, a true freshman, playing against one of the top programs in the country, was making his entrance into the world of big time college football. I couldn’t believe it. But it made me wonder: could Lamar Jackson end up being better than our beloved Teddy Bridgewater?
I posed this question to my Facebook friends and immediately received the following responses: “It’s too early to say”; “He is impressive”;“He can be. Remember Teddy didn’t have a break out year until his sophomore season”; “If the question is can he be, absolutely. Whether or not he will be remains to be seen”; “I think so … but we’re not gonna put too much pressure on him.”
I expected these types of responses. First and foremost, we love Teddy. And I mean really love him, so no quarterback will ever be compared to him with ease. Secondly, I agree that it is a bit early to make significant projections on this young man and his future, but a 100+ passing game with 100+ rushing yards against the number six team in the nation cannot be ignored. I agree that he is impressive and he has set himself up for a breakout season a year before Teddy did. I think there were many intangibles about Teddy that made him great at Louisville, and I think Lamar Jackson has a few extra things to make him very special.
On Saturday night, I was sorely disappointed by the loss. I was, however, encouraged by the fight in the Cards and our new quarterback. I think he’s sealed his position as the starter and I think it’s going to be another great year to be a Cardinal! #L1C4