football Edit

Take Two: Lamar Jackson, more USC troubles, OU drops the ball

Take Two is back this week tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the network of team sites.

RELATED: What if Lamar Jackson had picked Florida?


Lamar Jackson (USA Today Sports)

Storyline: The biggest storyline in college football so far this season has been the emergence of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson as arguably the best player in the game, so unstoppable that he’s carved through defenses and put up huge numbers.

So the question becomes, just where does he stand with the elite dual-threat quarterbacks in recent memory? Is he as talented and dynamic as Michael Vick?

Vick says Jackson surpasses him, but was that just a generous and kind comment or did the former Virginia Tech star really mean it?

After all, Jackson has led Louisville to blowout victories over Charlotte, Syracuse and most impressively Florida State so far this season. He’s rushed for 464 yards and 10 touchdowns and has thrown for 913 yards with eight scores and two picks.

Those are insane numbers. So is Jackson possibly the best dual-threat QB this game has seen or is it too early to make that claim?

First take: “If you're just looking at the statistics, Jackson is already better. Vick threw 21 passing touchdowns in his two-year playing career at Virginia Tech, and Jackson already has 20. It has to be noted that Jackson didn't start much of his freshman season, and he's only three games into this year. Vick had 17 rushing touchdowns, and Jackson already has 21.

"Jackson already is the better college football player. Whether or not Jackson will have the more successful NFL career is obviously unknown. Louisville and Jackson's success make recruits look at the Cardinals' program as a national championship contender, rather than just a team that's on the "come up" as they're typically referred to as.” – Mike Singer,

Second take: “At this stage. you cannot say Jackson is better than Vick. Vick was the best dual-threat quarterback I’ve ever seen in college football. Jackson is doing some great things, but we live in the day and age where everybody is the greatest everything. It’s an instant reaction and overreaction to what occurs. I know Vick tweeted it out, but that’s sort of being overly gracious and it seems to be a little bit forced. When Jackson takes Louisville on his back to a national championship game like Vick did, when Jackson continually wins games single-handedly like Vick did over a two-year period, then we can start the comparisons. It’s too early for that. Jackson is similar because they both have that strong arm, that quick-flick release and he’s extremely elusive, but it’s too early to say that.” - Farrell


Clay Helton (USA Today Sports)

Storyline: What’s going on at USC?

That seems to be the question du jour with E.J. Price transferring out – and all kinds of rumors surrounding that situation – and another week filled with turmoil leading into a Friday night game at Utah.

Clay Helton has switched quarterbacks from Max Browne to Sam Darnold, JuJu Smith-Schuster is hardly getting the ball, Adoree’ Jackson is not being used on offense at all, there are rumors about discontent over offensive coordinator Tee Martin’s playcalling and all kinds of chatter about other players wanting to transfer as well.

USC has turned into a daily soap opera. Helton was supposed to calm these storms of the last few seasons, the unmitigated disasters of Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin, and bring the program back to relevancy through maturity and seriousness.

The talent is there. But this team still looks unprepared, undisciplined and it’s been getting taken to the woodshed by national powers so far this season.

First take: “There’s plenty of crazy rumors flying around USC these days, many of which we cannot confirm. But what we can confirm is that Helton is in serious danger of losing his team. Players and others around the team have thrown around expressions like 'eroding,' 'driving into the dirt,' 'destroying,' all off the record of course, and we’re only a few games into the season. The way Helton handled the quarterback situation has not helped, as some key offensive players have always felt Sam Darnold should have been the choice all along. But Helton had to hold Browne hostage for a season before he got to that conclusion. The way he handled the Browne-Darnold competition won’t help attract any top quarterbacks. And honestly, it’s hard to imagine any top recruit committing to USC unless Helton turns it around fast or is let go.

“So yes, it’s a very dangerous time for this team and recruiting. But it’ll likely be fixed soon. Helton has to win big fast or it seems very likely he’ll get let go.” – Chris Swanson,

Second take: “The last three hires have all been over their head. Even though he was at Tennessee for a year and coached the Raiders, Kiffin was over his head to run a program that big. Sarkisian was clearly over his head based on how things ended there. Helton is way over his head. USC recruits itself and the Trojans will still get top kids, but this team gave up against Alabama when things got rough. USC is headed toward a losing season unless Darnold is suddenly the spark they need. Lynn Swann could say, ‘You’re gone.’ It’s not his hire. Helton is way over his head and he’s in huge trouble.” - Farrell


Ohio State versus Oklahoma (USA Today Sports)

Storyline: Oklahoma had it all lined up. A primetime national television game against Ohio State at home, in front of a group of elite national recruits. The Sooners were in for a big night, a night that could pay off with five-star recruits Marvin Wilson and Jeffrey Okudah in the stands.

And then Oklahoma lost, 45-24.

The Sooners are a disappointing 1-2 this season and still has the challenging Big 12 schedule ahead of it, going to TCU next weekend after a bye week to lick some wounds.

Will that Ohio State clobbering really hurt Oklahoma’s recruiting, which has the fourth-best class in the country? Are Wilson and Okudah now counted out? How bad, really, is this 1-2 start for Oklahoma?

First take: “It's probably not a huge surprise that the two most elite prospects who were in town are the two who Oklahoma probably suffered the biggest blow with - Okudah and Wilson. Though neither had a bad time, with the reality that Okudah came in with Ohio State out in front and Wilson watched the Buckeyes dominate up front, it's not hard to imagine it having a real impact on their recruitment.

“The good news is that plenty of Oklahoma's other uncommitted visitors came away beaming about the trip -- notably K'Jakyre Daley and Adrian Ealy, who both seem to have the Sooners near the top of their list.

“As for Oklahoma's commitments, it seems that they saw the game, and the slow start as a whole, simply as a possibility to compete for earlier playing time as well as the entire weekend just being a furthering of a uniquely close-knit group. Oklahoma has done a nice job with damage control and they should not only keep the vast majority of their commitments who were on campus last weekend but continue to land more.” – Josh McCuistion,

Second take: “The question about Oklahoma's loss is whether it hurt their standing with their current commitments. It certainly hurt with Okudah. Ohio State was his favorite and he watched Ohio State destroy OU. Wilson said Ohio State was a better team in every facet of the game from start to finish and now he’s thinking about visiting Ohio State officially. The Sooners had a chance to be in their top two and they probably dropped outside their top three right now. How will it affect Oklahoma's current class? Bob Stoops' team can still win the Big 12 and right now the program boasts the No. 4 recruiting class in the country, but you know the vultures are circling. They’re already in the ears of these kids, ‘Don’t go to Oklahoma. Stoops can’t win the big one.’ It’s definitely a big step back in recruiting.” - Farrell