Big Jake: Tiger Tailback Packs A Punch

It just took one play in a bowl practice for his teammates to realize that Brandon Jacobs is a football player who can more than hold his own at the major college level.

Auburn, Ala.--Although he was the first Auburn football player to rush for 100 yards this season with a strong showing vs. Western Kentucky, backup tailback Brandon Jacobs says there is plenty he can do to improve his level of performance.

"Overall, I could have done better with my assignments--they weren't too good," he says. "I looked at the film and it has a lot of stuff that needs to be corrected. Hopefully, things will be all good this week and I will be crisp for the game."

"The game" is an important SEC test for his Tigers, who will entertain Tennessee at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday evening at Jordan-Hare stadium. The 4-0 Vols, fresh from an exciting 23-20 overtime win over South Carolina, will bring a 4-0 overall mark to AU along with an SEC East leading 2-0 conference record. Auburn is 1-0 in league play.

Coach Phillip Fulmer has built a physical team at Tennessee so the Tigers will be tested to see if they can handle that after failing their first exam against a muscular Top 10 squad when Southern Cal came to Jordan-Hare Stadium and dominated Auburn on opening day.

"I love being physical," Jacobs says with a smile. "That is the name of the game." At 6-4 1/2 with around 260 pounds on his frame, that is what running backs coach Eddie Gran wants to see from the big tailback. It won't be a surprise if Gran gives Jacobs some early playing time to see what the Vols can or can't do with the super-sized runner.

Brandon Jacobs is shown on a 44-yard run against Western Kentucky, which was his first of 10 carries.

Jacobs says he is excited about the possibilities of being a major contributor in a big game like the one on Saturday. "I know they are going to come in and be real physical," Jacobs says of the Volunteers. "They have a great ranking and they earned it all."

After evening their record at 2-2 with a 48-3 rout of Western Kentucky last Saturday, Jacobs and the Tigers return to the practice field on Tuesday after resting on Monday following film study and practice on Sunday. On Tuesday the Tigers will spend a great deal of the session putting in the game plan for Saturday's game against the seventh-ranked Tennessee Volunteers.

With Jacobs and sophomore Tre Smith backing up co-starters Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams, when the Tigers were struggling the co-starters got almost all of the snaps in the losses to Southern Cal and Georgia Tech. Jacobs got his first extensive playing time in in game three at Nashville and contributed to Auburn's 45-7 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores. He picked up where he left off with a power running performance vs. the Hilltoppers, rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown in just 10 carries.

A national TV audience will be tuned in on ESPN to check out the action and will get the chance to see the big back who was the national juco player of the year last season at Coffeyville, Kan., Community College. "I haven't quite been in a big game like Tennessee so hopefully I will come out and get used to it real quick," Jacobs says.

It didn't take his teammates long to realize that Jacobs was not an ordinary running back when he joined them for bowl practice in December. On one of his first runs playing the role of Penn State star tailback Larry Johnson as a member of the AU scout team preparing the Tigers for the Capital One Bowl, the whopper ran over a significant portion of a hard-nosed defense in a scrimmage just a few weeks after that group had shut down what was considered to be a powerful Alabama running attack in the regular season finale.

There is no doubt that Tennessee players will be checking out game video of the giant Auburn back to watch him run around and over Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky defenders. Jacobs had one of the big hits of the day on his touchdown run just by walloping a late arriving defender with a well-timed shoulder butt after Jacobs scored on an 18-yard run. As the big tailback hit the brakes, he noticed a WKU defender was zeroing in on him at alarming speed."I kind of slowed up in the end zone because the play was dead," Jacobs notes. "I looked at him coming and he didn't throttle down. I was just trying to protect myself." The Western Kentucky defender went down like he hit a brick wall. "He ran into something he didn't want to run into," says Jacobs, who adds, "He didn't hurt me by any means."

Two weeks earlier in Nashville, he rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries, but his most impressive play was a crushing wedge-buster hit in his role on the kickoff coverage team. He did not carry the ball vs. Southern Cal or Georgia Tech.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said earlier this season that Jacobs' playing time would increase as the junior became more familiar with the Auburn offense and learned the nuances of the system. "I am real comfortable with the offense," Jacobs says." I know all of the checks and what I am doing on everything. Sometimes you have to be patient and sometimes you have to adjust to different things. We put in new stuff and sometimes we have new assignments every week. We are back to playing against a normal 4-3 defense that we have been playing against the first two weeks. Stuff shouldn't be that hard for us. We are going to be going back to basics and will be working hard at what we do."

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