Archie Griffin stands alone in the Heisman annals as the only player to win the trophy twice.
Lamar Jackson, now a junior at Louisville and last year’s Heisman winner, is trying to become the second.
In 2016, Jackson racked up 5,114 total yards and 51 touchdowns to lead Louisville to a 9-4 record and a nine-week run in the Top 10 of the AP Poll. Through five games this season, the Cardinals are 4-1, and Jackson is on pace for 5,389 yards and 47 touchdowns.
But the way he’s getting those numbers has changed.
|Games||Rushing YPG||Passing YPG||Total YPG||Rushing TD||Passing TD||Total TD||TD/G|
In comparing Jackson’s performance last year to this year, one thing jumps out: The junior has put a higher priority on passing this season. Last year, 69.3 percent of Jackson’s yards, and 58.8 percent of his touchdowns came through the air. This year, those numbers have jumped to 78.9 percent and 72.2 percent.
It’s a stellar sequel in the making. But will it be enough for a Heisman repeat?
Early in the season, the first roadblock has presented itself: greater competition for the Heisman.
After Week 5, Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph leads the FBS with 21 touchdowns, and UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen’s 431.6 yards per game are more than anyone in the country. Jackson sits at second place in both categories.
But both of those quarterbacks get most of their work done through the air. Of the most prolific scorers in the country, Jackson is the only one with more than 200 yards passing and 80 yards rushing per game.
|Player||School||Games||Rushing YPG||Passing YPG||Total YPG||Passing TD||Rushing TD||Total TD||TD/G|
|1||Mason Rudolph||Oklahoma St.||5||12||381.8||393.8||16||5||21||4.20|
|T4||Taquon Marshall||Georgia Tech||4||130.8||83.3||214.1||4||9||13||3.25|
|T4||Will Grier||West Virginia||4||32.8||343.5||376.3||13||0||13||3.25|
|7||Luke Falk||Washington St.||5||-10||343.6||333.6||16||0||16||3.20|
|T8||Nic Shimonek||Texas Tech||4||-12.2||394.5||382.3||12||0||12||3.00|
|T8||Quinton Flowers||South Fla.||5||79||186.8||265.8||10||5||15||3.00|
|T10||Brandon Wimbush||Notre Dame||5||80.4||156.4||236.8||6||8||14||2.80|
|T10||Tyler Rogers||New Mexico St.||5||0.6||351.4||352||14||0||14||2.80|
But Jackson isn’t just competing against Heisman candidates of this season. He’s fighting his own shadow, too.
Through 9 games last year, Jackson was averaging five touchdowns per game, which put him tied with David Klingler (Houston, 1990) for most points per game at 30. By season’s end, Jackson had cooled off somewhat.
If you take away a four-touchdown outing against Kentucky in the final game of the regular season, Jackson’s last three games saw him score only two touchdowns in all, including a goose egg in a 29-9 Citrus Bowl loss to LSU.
When all of last season is taken into account, Jackson averaged “only” 23.5 points per game, which would put him tied for No. 12 all time with Brandon Doughty (Western Kentucky, 2014).
|T2||1969||Dennis Shaw||San Diego State||27|
|5||1980||Jim McMahon||Brigham Young||26.5|
|6||2003||B.J. Symons||Texas Tech||26.3|
|T10||2013||Derek Carr||Fresno State||24|
|T12||2014||Brandon Doughty||Western Kentucky||23.5|
This year, Jackson has racked up 18 total touchdowns, and 414.6 yards per game.
By himself, Jackson would rank as the No. 66 offense in the country, gaining more yards per game than 64 other FBS teams, including Iowa State (409 ypg), LSU (409 ypg), Kansas State (408.3 ypg), Michigan (407.3 ypg), Georgia (387 ypg) and Florida (358.5 ypg).
He’s scored more touchdowns by himself — 18 — than 68 FBS teams, including Iowa (17), Tennessee (16), Florida (14) and Michigan (13).
Still, to match last year’s output, Jackson will need to score 33 touchdowns in his next eight games, an average of just more than four a game. It’s definitely doable. Last season, Jackson had eight games with four or more touchdowns. He’s had two such outings in his first five games this season.
But while matching his individual output is a possibility for Jackson, Louisville’s schedule this year presents another set of challenges for the incumbent Heisman winner. The Cardinals have played only one ranked team this year — a 47-21 loss at home to then-No. 3 Clemson. This week, No. 17 Louisville plays at No. 24 NC State, the only other currently ranked opponent for the Cardinals. If Jackson wants to impress, he won’t have many more opportunities on the big stage.
But don’t worry too much. All eyes will still be on No. 8 for the rest of the year.