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Lamar Jackson vs Lamar Jackson

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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It's not that Lamar Jackson can't duplicate what he did, it's that the reaction won't be the same if he does.

What Lamar Jackson did last year was absolutely unprecedented. He became the first player in FBS history to throw for at least 3,300 yards and run for at least 1,500 in a single season and only the sixth FBS player ever to top 20 touchdowns both passing and rushing. Jackson made history as the youngest winner of the Heisman Trophy, also claiming the Maxwell Award, was a unanimous All-American and led Louisville to an appearance in the national top three along way. A captivating talent, Jackson was college football's story of the year.   

This fall, Jackson will look to become just the second two-time winner of the Heisman Trophy ever, potentially joining Ohio State legend Archie Griffin in the record books. Jackson's biggest competition, in that rare pursuit, might not be super-talented stars like Sam Darnold or Baker Mayfield, but the theory of relativity, instead. As Jackson chases history, he may also be chasing his shadow. Given his jaw-dropping performances as a sophomore, what must Jackson now do to impress us? We must be very mindful not to only measure Jackson by the previously-unreached standards that he, himself, just established.

It's not that Jackson can't duplicate what he did, it's that the reaction won't be the same if he does. His own reputation, an unrelenting evaluation that nobody else must go through, will be incredibly tough to beat. 

The start of the season will likely be especially over-analyzed. After a disappointing performance in the Citrus Bowl, all eyes will be on Jackson when the Cardinals open their schedule against Purdue in Indianapolis. Expectations will be high as Jackson scored eight touchdowns, in the first half, of his first game, a year ago. During four outings in the opening month of 2016, Louisville finished with 70, 62, 63 and 59 points; the Cardinals' September-scoring alone was more than ten FBS teams had all season.

Alone, Jackson averaged more total offense per game than the likes of Arizona State, Georgia and UCLA did as complete units. If Jackson was a team, he would have finished in the national top 50 in touchdowns scored. Deshaun Watson had one of the most remarkable runs the game has ever seen last fall; Jackson topped his per-game average by over 45 yards.    

Showcasing his remarkable versatility, Jackson led all of power five football in rushing touchdowns this past year and, along with Mayfield, was one of merely two power five quarterbacks to throw for a minimum 3,500 yards, 30 touchdowns and average 8.6 yards per pass attempt. Furthermore, in two games against top ten teams, Jackson compiled for 819 total yards and eight total touchdowns.   

If the exact statistical standard, for Jackson, is what he did as a sophomore, then he is the only player, ever, to pass the bar. 

Jackson should obviously have to earn his national acclaim this fall, but what he has done can't be the only reference for what he does next.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Matt Osborne and Kevin Thomas on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network and is the sports director for multiple ESPN Radio affiliates based throughout southeast Georgia. @BJBennettSports