Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson adapting to changes

By The Sports Xchange  |  July 13, 2017 at 8:46 PM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Footwork largely won the Heisman Trophy for Louisville's Lamar Jackson last year.

Now the junior quarterback is learning new footwork because he has been taking snaps under center in preparation for the season.

"He can really drop and throw it from under there," Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino said. "He does a good job in the run game. The best thing about Lamar is it was never an issue of taking the snap, so he could always take the snap. It was just getting used to the footwork."

Jackson rushed for 1,571 yards and threw for 3,543 yards last season. He played a part in 51 touchdowns (21 on the ground, 30 through the air).

Jackson downplayed the impact of what could be a new view with the ball.

"I just can't wait until the Purdue game (in the opener) and go out and show everything," he said.

Petrino said Jackson will remain the focal point of the offense for obvious reasons. But he said some alterations could alleviate some pressure from him.

It also could help prepare Jackson for whenever he pursues a professional career.

"I also feel like we need to take some pressure off of him where he doesn't need to make a decision every single play out there," Petrino said. "So there's some really good run schemes that you can do and some play-action schemes you can do with the quarterback underneath the center."

Louisville's offensive line came apart at times last season, particularly during a three-game losing streak to end the season. The Cardinals finished 9-4.

That's one reason why giving Jackson more options in alignments could provide more avenues for him.

He said he knows he took physical thumpings last season.

"I got beat up," he said. "You have to deal with it. Being quarterback, you're supposed to be the leader of the team. ... I'm confident in (the offensive line)."

The attention will naturally come for Jackson as the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. He said he is not focusing on that, but instead the emphasis remains on winning games.

"I don't really worry about it," he said. "It's done. I have it. I wasn't trying to win it last year. It happened. My teammates helped me out. My coaches helped me out. I'm just blessed and I'm humbled."

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