Breaking down all 8 of Lamar Jackson's touchdowns
College football’s opening weekend featured a number of top performances. Exciting sophomore Lamar Jackson looked to build on an impressive first season, beginning with a matchup against Charlotte. As he jogged off the field, he will have been intensely satisfied with his performance. More so because the players were heading for halftime, instead of their post-game obligations. Jackson combined for eight touchdowns in the first half, earning this week’s Walter Camp National Offensive player of the week award.
Breaking down his game
Jackson managed an 86.1 rushing grade in Week 1, tearing the Charlotte defense to shreds with his athleticism. Incredibly, he generated 109 of his 119 yards after contact, breaking four tackles. Greater tests are to come, but Jackson made plenty of Power-5 defenders look silly with similar moves in 2015. His movement skills are truly freakish.
Efforts to contain him also proved ineffective. Jackson broke a number of tackles behind the line of scrimmage, as well as multiple down the field. Those do not show up on the stat sheet, but break the confidence of a defense hopeful of finally forcing the Cardinals’ into a long-yardage situation. Despite facing pressure on ten of his 28 dropbacks, Jackson avoided being sacked.
Although often used derogatively, all quarterbacks need to manage games from time to time. The best game managers are flawless in their decision-making, hitting the open receiver against the defensive adjustments. Throughout the contest, Jackson was patient reading over his progressions, before finding the open man.
Discounting the two passes thrown away, and the drop by one of his receiver’s, Jackson managed an adjusted completion percentage of 81.0 (t15 of all QBs in Week 1). He hit on 16 of 20 passes, for 270 yards and five touchdowns. Louisville’s win wasn’t a solo effort – only 54.6 percent of Jackson’s yardage came in the air – but his accuracy looks much improved from a season ago. Without further ado, let’s take a look at each one of his scores…
Touchdown No.1: 36-yard zone-read keep
Illustrating his absurd athleticism, Jackson takes a zone-read to the house. His quickness in the open-field is too much for the overwhelmed Charlotte defense. Jackson’s combination of speed and acceleration is rare, few quarterbacks possess his kind of movement skills.
Touchdown No. 2: 13-yard post
Both of Jackson’s downfield completions resulted in touchdowns. This throw is relatively easy with such a wide throwing lane, but he diagnoses the bust quickly enough to fire the pass in uncontested. Despite some interior rush, Jackson’s able to generate impressive velocity.
Touchdown No. 3: 24-yard running back flat
Jackson showed an ability to manipulate zone coverage, hitting his running back in the flat twice for two easy scores. Although the throws themselves were regulation, the first in particular required Jackson to move the corner with his eyes, opening up the path to the endzone.
Touchdown No. 4: 1-yard inside zone-read keep
Jackson is also required to make decisions in the ground game. He reads the defense correctly on this goal line play, plunging in for his fourth score of the day.
Touchdown No. 5: 16-yard running back flat
The Cardinals had a lot of success with the wide receiver slant, running back flat combination. Charlotte’s defense completely fail to organise the pickup, leaving the back wide open. Jackson recognises the easy yardage, leading his teammate for another touchdown.
Touchdown No.6: 20-yard halfback screen
Another passing touchdown to a running back, this time on a designed screen. Jackson’s makes a marginal contribution on this play, but new offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway deserves a ton of credit for calling a great first game.
Touchdown No. 7: 32-yard fade
Jackson’s longest passing touchdown of the game, a 32-yard strike in the second quarter, was an outstanding throw. He dropped an arc on the money, giving his receiver just enough room to toe tap in bounds at the back of the end zone. The throw illustrates the added refinement in Jackson’s game, as he takes power off the ball to fit it into a small window.
Touchdown No. 8: 1-yard tight-end flat off play action
Another simple score against a confused lower-level defense. Jackson is totally clean in the pocket, with a choice of two wide open receivers to hit for touchdowns. Defending the back, quarterback keep on the zone read and play action is almost impossible.