Coordinator Has Jackson Charged For Season

Senior Tommy Jackson talks about Auburn's progression on defense under coordinator David Gibbs.

Auburn, Ala.-–With new defensive coordinator David Gibbs taking over for Gene Chizik for the 2005 season, there were several changes expected with a defense that finished among the nation's elite last year.

While most have been smooth, one big difference between the two is that Gibbs is on the field for the game while Chizik was always upstairs. For senior noseguard Tommy Jackson, the change is a welcome one because of the intensity Gibbs brings to the sidelines.

"We like what kind of coach he is," Jackson says. "He's a great coach. He'll mix it up with us. Sometimes I think he wants to put on the pads and I wouldn't doubt it, he's just that kind of coach.

"With the way he coaches and how he is, it's going to make us a better defense. He's just one of those guys. He likes to mix it up with you and play. I think that's really going to help us. He keeps us going. He's the first guy to meet us out there after something is done on defense. That's just a different feel for us, going from being in the press box to out there on the field.

Coach David Gibbs

"He gets us charged," Jackson adds. "Coach jumps up in your face just like another player. I believe he wants to just head butt you. He's a real good coach and a team guy. That's real good. It makes us a lot more comfortable going out there and playing for him."

Auburn struggled at times in the opener against Georgia Tech, giving up 17 points in the first half alone. Since that time the Tigers have been outstanding. In the last six quarters of football the Tigers have allowed just six points and 318 total yards on 92 offensive plays. That is an average of just 3.45 yards per play. Last season the Tigers gave up an average of 4.62 yards per play.

T.J. Jackson has been a leader for the Tigers this season.

One of the reasons for that is the play of Jackson in the middle. Auburn's most experienced defensive lineman, the senior from nearby Opelika has improved his game this season by spending more time studying the play of not only himself, but his opponents.

"I have been watching a lot more film than doing the golf thing," Jackson says. "I thought I was going to be able to do golf more, but because of graduation I have been able to watch a lot more film. It has really helped out a lot. I'm finding a lot more keys about different teams we play. That's good."

With seven tackles in two games despite sitting out much of the Mississippi State game, Jackson isn't going to fill the stat sheet with numbers, but he does his job on the field. That work earned him high praise from position coach Don Dunn following the 28-0 shutout Saturday. Jackson says that he's learning something new everyday and is trying to pass that along to teammates to make them better.

"The older you get, the more you learn, and the better you'll do," Jackson contends. "I think that's for everybody. Nobody is the same from their freshman to their senior year. You're always going to get better. I would rather be getting better than getting worse. You always want to progress, never regress.

"I think I'm just getting off the ball more," Jackson adds. "I'm not reading so much. I'm able to take what I see in the film room on the field with me. I see this tendency or that tendency and I try my best to take advantage of it. That's pretty much it. I watched film with nine or 10 other guys yesterday and we were able to read off each other. We were talking and a lot more communication. I think that helps everybody out."

One player that Jackson has been helping on and off the field is fellow Opelika Bulldog Tez Doolittle. A physical specimen who entered Auburn as a 280-pound fullback, Doolittle got his first serious playing time last Saturday against Mississippi State and played well, making two tackles and getting a quarterback hurry. Jackson said it was good to see the redshirt sophomore step up when needed.

"That's only going to help us," Jackson says. "The more he keeps playing like he is the better we'll get and the better he'll get. It's going to help us all out tremendously. He's playing well, showing a lot of effort, and working hard. He's willing to learn in the film room and asking questions. That's great. That's want to. That's all you've got to have is want to. Want to and drive and he'll be fine."

"He understands a lot more about playing defensive line in college from D line in high school and just changing and understanding what it means to play it," Jackson notes. "It's hard to play D line. It really is. He's starting to figure it out. He's putting forth a whole lot of effort, not that he didn't put forth effort before, but he's putting more effort forth than ever. That's really going to help him out down the road."

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