'Canes Alumni Interview - James Jackson Pt. 5

In Part Five of CanesTime.com's exclusive interview with former Hurricane running back James Jackson, Jackson talks about the 2000 season that restored Miami's program prestige and began a 'Canes 3 season dynasty. Jackson also talks about what may have happened had the 'Canes played for the National Championship and whether or not he felt his career was complete after his final game. Read on!

CT – For the 2000 FSU game, I heard you guys were extremely hyped up, shaking the bus back and forth on the way to the Orange Bowl.

JJ – There were certain games that we would get really excited for and honestly some of the thigns, most of it happened in the locker room. It may have been a little too much of watching movies like "The Program," like hitting eachother in the head without helmets…we had a couple games like that where we had that kind of hype. You know, a game where we really got hyped up was the Michael Vick game in 2000. We wanted that game so bad. We wanted to play because all year long we had heard about how he was going to tear us up, and how Mike Vick runs a 4.2. Two people got really hyped up for that game. Nate Webster and Al Blades. You know, they really wanted to get a piece of Mike. They wanted a shot at him, they really did.

CT – I remember that 2000 Virginia Tech game really got started with a nice deep pass from Dorsey to Santana Moss.

JJ - Yea, it was all downhill from there. A lot of times during games we'd go down the field and score and we would yell to Nate as we were coming off the field "go get the ball back so we can score again." There were times when we challenged each other, offense and defense. They would do the same the same for us. They would tell us to hurry up and score so we could get back on the field. As crazy as that sounds, a lot of times Nate wanted to be on the field. Many times, he came up to Butch and asked him to play some fullback so he could hit someone. That's what type of team we had. That plays a big part, when you have people that have that kind of passion in the locker room. That's contagious, when you have a guy who just doesn't want to get out of the game and wants to be on the field.

CT – We've been talking a little bit about 2000. That was the year, wasn't it? That was when everyone, not just South Florida, took notice of the Miami Hurricanes again. They realized Miami was back. After that Washington game, you guys rolled. You finally beat Florida State, first time in your career you did that. You ended up #2 in the country, how did it feel to go out like that?

JJ – I can't even explain it. You know what the first thing I thought of was? I thought about those seniors in 1997. When I came out of the locker room and hugged my dad, I cried and thought about them, because I kind of think I played for them and I played for my dad. My dad told me he just wanted me to run the ball hard. He didn't care if I broke any records or anything like that. I always looked to break a 40 or 50 yard run and he told me to be patient, look for the hole, figure out where it was going to be, and take off. That game, my only goal was to find the hole and get 6 yards as fast as I can, every single game. I just wanted to run as hard as I possibly could.

CT – You were thinking about 1997 after the FSU game. After the season played out and you finished #2 in the country, did you feel a complete sense of accomplishment?

JJ – After that Florida game I felt, to be honest with you, up until that time, I didn't feel like my college career had finished. After that Florida game I did, because I couldn't think of a better way to go out except to win a championship, which they robbed us of. Florida State got invited and they got embarrassed, couldn't even score a touchdown on what was basically a home field. But I felt good after that Florida game.

CT – Here's a hypothetical question. Let's say Miami gets the nod to play Oklahoma instead of Florida State. How does that game play out?

JJ – I think we beat them by at least 2 touchdowns, 28-14 minimum. Because of the fact that it would have been a home game for us and the way we were playing at the end of the season. Everything was clicking. What was happening was they had to account for me, they had to account for Clinton. They had to account for Reggie. They had to account for Santana. They had to account for everyone. They couldn't just say, "we're going to completely shut the run down" because at that point in time, Ken Dorsey was far enough along where you couldn't shut one part of the game down without him having a game where he would throw for 4 or 5 touchdowns. His confidence level was amazing at that point in time. You couldn't game plan for us. We were such a balanced team, that was the most balanced team I ever played for. College, NFL , whatever. Most balanaced.


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