When third-ranked Clemson and No. 14 Louisville square off in college football’s marquee matchup of Week 3, Lamar Jackson will have the greatest impact on the outcome.
And the coach on the other side of the field, while prepared for the challenge, isn’t exactly looking forward to the showdown. Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal shared the lofty praise Clemson’s Dabo Swinney had for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
“Lamar Jackson is an unbelievable football player. He’s fun to watch. He’s not fun to prepare for. He’s not fun to play against. I much prefer to watch him. I enjoy that a lot better. We got our hands full with this guy. … What a player.”
Swinney added that the junior quarterback looks like a bigger, stronger and more complete player in 2017 compared to last season—when Clemson barely avoided a season-changing loss to the Cardinals.
Jackson threw for 295 yards, scampered for 162 and accounted for three total touchdowns. However, Louisville’s last-minute drive ended just three yards short of the end zone, and Clemson celebrated a 42-36 victory. Swinney and the Tigers went on to win the national championship.
In two games this season, Jackson has been spectacular. He collected 485 yards of total offense and two touchdowns during the opener against Purdue, then amassed 525 yards and six scores at North Carolina.
Clemson will rely on a tremendous front seven—which just racked up 11 sacks in a victory over Auburn—to contain him, especially on designed runs. That’s how Jackson does a majority of his damage on the ground, although he is a dangerous scrambler.
One wild card is whether Louisville’s shaky offensive line protects Jackson well enough to counteract Clemson’s disruptive front. But if that blocking unit pulls off the unexpected, Jackson will be even less “not fun to play against” for Swinney and the ACC favorites.