Jackson says he and his defensive teammates will go into Saturday's 1:30 p.m. football game vs. Western Kentucky with respect for the visitors and a goal of getting better.
Western Kentucky, which is ranked No. 1 nationally in Division I-AA, will have the only option offense the Tigers will face this year unless they run into one in a bowl game. Jackson says that means the defense needs to keep mistakes to a minimum vs. the Hilltoppers.
"This week we are playing assignment football," the noseguard says of Auburn's final non-conference game. "We have got to get it done. Everybody up front has to be accountable. If we do that, we will be fine."
Auburn has won 13 straight homecoming games dating back to losses by Pat Dye coached teams in 1991 vs. Ole Miss and 1990 vs. Southern Miss. Prior to those setbacks, the Tigers hadn't lost a homecoming game since Oct. 24, 1970 vs. LSU when Shug Jordan was the head coach.
Tommy Jackson works against center Joe Cope in practice.
The Tigers are 65-8-5 all-time in homecoming games and are heavily favored to win again this Saturday. However, Jackson says he isn't expecting the game to be easy just because the Tigers steamrollered Ball State 63-3 last week.
"They are well coached," Jackson says of the Hilltoppers. "They don't make mistakes and they get after it, too. They might not be as big as other teams, but you can tell that they are well coached. You can look at it on film. They cause other teams to make mistakes and they cause people to think. They have a real good football team.
"Their O linemen finish blocks, the running backs hit holes and the quarterback goes out there and tries to make blocks," adds Jackson, a returning starter from the unbeaten 2004 team that led the nation in scoring defense.
Although the Tigers have given up a total of just three points in the past two games, defensive coordinator David Gibbs says his group has plenty of room for improvement. Jackson agrees with the new coordinator and was one of the seniors who spoke up at a "players only" meeting earlier this week called by linebacker Travis Williams to discuss the need to get better defensively.
"From freshmen to seniors we have to keep growing," Jackson says. "We have just got to keep that tenacity. We have to keep that hunger to get better."
Last season Jackson and the Tigers played well for homecoming, taking a 52-7 victory over Louisiana Tech. There is no television coverage of the game. Tickets are still available.