Louisville Cardinals @ Florida State Seminoles
Doak Campbell Stadium – Tallahassee, FL
Score: Louisville (31), Florida State (28)
Lamar Jackson can carry a franchise through explosive plays
Louisville does not have many NFL caliber players on their team. Yet, they are currently sitting at 5-3 and this game was another that Lamar Jackson had to put on his back. NFL franchises that are in dismay, I’m looking at you Cleveland Browns and New York Jets, should seriously consider Lamar Jackson leading them their team. With his explosive capabilities, an offense does not have to be in sync all the time but rather live off explosive plays. In this game, Lamar Jackson continued to prove that he can take a simple read option the distance. He broke several runs for large gains when ONE guy on the defense was not gap discipline.
I used to be hesitant of his slender frame holding up on the NFL level. However, I am convinced that he is stronger than most defenders give him credit for. He consistently fell forward after contact even when taking on LBs. When he wasn’t gaining explosive plays as a runner, he attacked the defense with downfield passes that showed touch and uncanny accuracy. He threw two go routes that fell right into the WRs’ bucket but they dropped both for what should have been two touchdowns. Yes, there will be times when he takes a huge loss because of a free defender tackling him before he can get started.
However, eventually his offense will get back within scoring distance because he is a walking explosive play waiting to happen either by bursting through the line on designed run plays, using his speed and creativity to extend passing plays, or by flicking the ball deep.
Jackson truly is the remake of Michael Vick. Most importantly to note though, is that Vick admitted that he could have been much better if he would have studied the game. After winning the Heisman, Lamar Jackson stayed hungry, understood his shortfalls and studied the game to improve his knowledge of the offense. He has even proved that he can play as an under center QB if asked to do so.
The draft process will nitpick Lamar Jackson but he has proven that his ability to create explosive plays and put his offense in scoring position can lead a team that has nothing else going for it.
Tavarus McFadden continues to be unimpressive
It seems I am the only one of NDT scouting not on the Tavarus McFadden bandwagon but this game didn’t do anything to change my opinion. He continued to get beat in press coverage. I admit there are times when he plays very patient in press, stays square, and jams the receiver to the point of disrupting the entire route.
However, there were way more plays in which separation for the receiver was too easy to come by while in press coverage. I wish I could say that maybe he’d be better in zone coverage but even then, I didn’t see the play recognition skills necessary to be impactful.
For instance, he stayed in his cover 3 “column” despite no receiver outside of him and having a clear view of the TE inside of him running a post route. A ball hawking DB would have easily deciphered the play as an opportunity to jump the post route but instead McFadden never reacted until the pass was thrown and completed. He also did not engage in the running game despite knowing that the defense would need all the help they could get to slow down Lamar Jackson.
I didn’t sense his desire to do whatever it takes to win the game, even it meant diving out for a TD saving tackle. During one TD run, he was in man coverage engaged with the WR far down the field and failed to instinctively “feel” his fellow teammates chasing the RB who was running right behind him for a TD.
I am not seeing the consistent press coverage nor natural instincts necessary for him to be the first-round player he is hyped to be.
FSU has a future 1st round RB
Cam Akers is only a freshman and hence a long way off from being draft eligible. However, it is apparent to me that his vison and agility makes him a high candidate for 1st round selection when the time comes. He came out of high school as the #1 ranked RB and has proven to live up to the hype. He runs with low pad level and a downhill burst that makes defenders feel it when they attempt to tackle him.
I am highly impressed with his vision, as he cut back without hesitation several times this game that turned into explosive runs. To come in as a freshman and seamlessly transition into the #1 role for a program like FSU means that he has a natural feel for running that will not change in the coming years.
Barring a catastrophic injury (knock on wood), Cam Akers will continue the trend of RBs being selected highly in the draft.