Back Lamar Jackson is Better Than Ever

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Lamar Jackson is Better Than Ever

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Lamar Jackson, as it currently stands, is on pace to finish with one of the top five most-productive seasons in college football history.

It's November, and somehow Lamar Jackson is not a leading name in the Heisman Trophy conversation. The reigning winner, perception continues to hold Jackson back much more than production; he, in fact, has increased his yard-per-game average from 393.4 last season to 426.3 this fall, the highest total, by at least 33 yards, of any player, at any level, in college football. For point of reference, Jackson is compiling nearly 50 total yards more per contest than Oklahoma superstar Baker Mayfield, who is fresh off throwing for 598 yards last Saturday.

Jackson, as it currently stands, is on pace to finish with one of the top five most-productive seasons in college football history, a rate which would be the highest-ever for a player not from a school in Texas. 

As a passer, Jackson ranks in the national top ten, with more yards per game than the likes of Southern Cal's Sam Darnold, Washington State's Luke Falk and Drew Lock of Missouri. As a runner, Jackson is one of 18 players with more than 1,000 yards and has more yards and touchdowns than Penn State's Saquon Barkley, Georgia's Nick Chubb and Myles Gaskin of Washington. If Jackson were a team, he would rank 45th in the nation in total offense, one spot behind Oregon and ahead of the likes of Arizona State, Georgia Tech and Stanford.  

Quite literally, Jackson is two superstar players in one. If you added up the passing yards of Darnold (2,869) and the rushing yards of Barkley (864), Jackson, remarkably, would still have over 100 yards more (3,837). He is doing the complete offensive work of a potential national champion; Jackson has more total yards than top-ranked Georgia's quarterback Jake Fromm (1,557), two leading rushers Nick Chubb and Sony Michel (1,614), leading receiver Terry Godwin (422) and all of the Bulldog tight ends (208) combined.

The consistency of Jackson's play may be the most-remarkable aspect of his record-setting run. Just once, this year, has Jackson not either thrown for at least 300 yards or rush for at least 100: he passed for 299 yards on 18-of-22 attempts in a 42-3 win over Kent State. Statistically, Jackson has not yet had an off game this season, with 333 yards, at 11.1 yards per play, standing as his least-productive performance so far.

A year ago, Jackson became the first player in FBS history with 3,300 passing yards and 1,500 rushing yards. This fall, he could finish with a 4,000-yard, 1,500-yard effort. Jackson will soon become the first NCAA player ever to throw for over 3,000 yards and run for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. Compared to last year, he has improved his completion percentage as a passer and his yard-per-carry average as a runner. By almost every measure, the latest Lamar Jackson is the better Lamar Jackson.

Fighting an uphill battle of meeting the expectations that his own unprecedented production first set, Jackson remains college football's most dynamic talent. Simply put, the game has never seen anyone like him; the numbers are so big, we still don't know how to process them.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports