Tigers Vs. Vols: "It's Pretty Huge," Lineman Says

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville says he likes what he has seen from junior noseguard Tommy Jackson this season.

The former Opelika High star has shown his toughness by bouncing back more quickly than anticipated from a preseason arm injury. He has played hard and well in Auburn's first four games and he is expected to be a key player when the Tigers travel to Knoxville to face Tennessee on Saturday.

Awaiting Auburn's arrival will be a big and talented UT offensive line, which looks to be a strength of the 2004 Volunteers. Jackson has seen the Vols on video and is impressed.

"They have got a lot of future multi-millionaires," he says. "You have to play perfect technique. They have played in three ball games and they look great."

T.J. makes stop in Auburn's victory over LSU.

UT's offensive line will be assigned the task of protecting a pair of true freshmen quarterbacks who split the play-calling duties for the Vols. Erik Ainge was the hot quarterback last week as he came off the bench in Tennessee's 42-17 victory over Louisiana Tech. Brent Schaeffer, a left-hander who started last week, is very elusive and has a nice passing touch, too.

"We have to try our best to try to rattle them," Jackson says. "They have displayed tremendous ability. I have never seen freshmen come in and do so good. They played Louisiana Tech last week. Ainge came in and threw three touchdowns and 200 yards. That is great."

Ainge is six-foot-five with a very strong arm. He moves around the pocket fairly well, but is not in the same league with Schaeffer as a scrambler. Jackson says the Auburn defense will have to be constantly be aware of which QB is in the game.

"The fact that they are so different and they can do different things is tough," Jackson says.

Jackson will split time with redshirt freshman Josh Thompson at noseguard. "Both of those guys are doing a good job for us," says Tuberville, the Auburn head coach who is hoping to see his team improve to 5-0 with a victory in Knoxville.

Auburn and Tennessee played annually prior to the switch to a divisional format in 1992. The games are less frequent, but the intensity seems as high as ever. Last year's 28-21 Auburn victory over the Vols at Jordan-Hare Stadium was a hard-fought contest for four quarters.

"Auburn and Tennessee is an old rivalry," Jackson notes. "I am pretty sure those guys are going to be up for this one. We are going up there. There are a lot of fans who are going to be at the game. It's pretty huge. I am glad to be playing in something like that. It is going to be a good ball game."

If Auburn wins the game, the Tigers will move to 3-0 in the SEC and 5-0 overall and could move up in the national rankings and put the team into position to make a run at a Bowl Championship Series berth. "That is not really the issue now," Jackson says. "The issue is for us to prepare to get ready to play this ball game. If you don't properly prepare for a team like this, you lose."


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories