The Louisville Cardinals rolled over the Charlotte 49ers in their Thursday night opener, behind eight touchdowns from quarterback Lamar Jackson.
But it may not have been as dominant a performance as the scoreboard indicated. Let’s take a deeper look at Jackson’s performance:
Performance Under Pressure
On his 28 dropbacks, Jackson was pressured 12 times—a very concerning 42.9 percent.
On those 12 pressured dropbacks, Jackson took off running four times and threw two away. On his six aimed passes, he was 5-6, 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Those are brilliant numbers from Jackson (although somewhat skewed due to a high percentage of check-downs and screens). But the fact that he faced pressure on almost half of his dropbacks against a very weak Charlotte squad raises huge concerns for Louisville moving forward.
If the Cardinals can’t stop Charlotte’s pass-rush, how will they handle themselves against the likes of Clemson and Florida State?
Passing Outside the Pocket
If there’s an area for Jackson to improve when facing pressure, it’s keeping his eyes downfield.
When Jackson left the pocket after facing pressure, he scrambled four times, threw two balls away and only attempted one targeted pass.
Obviously Jackson has the athleticism to make a difference running the ball, so he shouldn’t be asked to give up that portion of his game. But if defenses see him tucking the ball every time he faces pressure, it could affect how they react and cut down on his effectiveness as a scrambler.
Jackson didn’t take a ton of shots deep down the field, but he looked good at all levels.
On passes thrown at least 10 yards down the field, Jackson was 7-8, 162 yards and two touchdowns.
He was also 2-3 on passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield, with both completions thrown in the end zone for scores to Reggie Bonnafon and James Quick.
Here’s a look at Jackson’s full passing chart from Thursday night