Jack Attack

Senior Safety Damien Jackson had 13 tackles in the 14-13 loss to BYU. Most of his tackles could be classified as "big hits." Great game, but the best part is he's not satisfied.

Damien Jackson, a senior safety for the Ole Miss Rebels, never stops in his quest for the perfect game.

After a 13-tackle effort against BYU, he says it should have been 15, 18, even 20, stops.

"I could have done more, I will do more," said Jackson, who takes his craft very seriously. "I can cut back on my mental errors. Everyone on defense can do more - we all know that."

The Rebel defense played a good game. Hardly anyone who has watched it or studied it disagrees, but Jackson wants no part of that thinking.

First and foremost, the Rebels lost. Secondly, the defense gave up a touchdown.

"I take no consolation from any loss. One touchdown was too much," he explained. "Our expectations for this year are different, very different. As far as we are concerned, we did not get the job done.

"We go out there to compete and we aren't competing to play a good game. We are competing to win and to be the very best. We bent too much in the second half, if you want to get right down to it."

Damien Jackson
Associated Press

Jackson will reluctantly admit the Rebel defense felt good during the opening game.

"Even when BYU got into a little rhythm on offense, there was no doubt in our minds that we were going to stop them," Damien said. "Yes, we bent, but we never even considered breaking and that's the mindset we are going to take into every game."

Jackson has had an unusual journey this fall camp. After a week of August practice, he was moved to the spur position, a hybrid linebacker/safety slot.

But the last week of camp, with Aaron Garbutt coming on strong behind him at spur and the coaches determined to put their "best 11" on the field regardless of position (to a point), Damien was moved back to safety.

"To be honest, it was an adjustment going back to safety. The first couple of days, I felt brand new back there," he said. "Every rep counts. Every practice snap is important and I missed a lot of them at safety for two weeks.

"The truth of the matter is that I'm still a little behind at safety. I'm not at my best yet, but I will get there. We will all get there and we aren't there yet."

Damien said he played on instincts developed from the past at safety.

"My instincts started coming back some in that game. I knew when to take a risk and when not to," he stated. "The basics started coming back for me and I got more comfortable as the game progressed, but I still have a lot of work to do."

Jackson is going on his second season at Ole Miss and basically refuses to talk about last year. It's not something he wants to relive, but he will talk about what's happening now on the Rebel defense.

"Between Coach (Keith) Burns and Coach (Chris)Vaughn, our expectation level is much higher. We expect to compete and we expect to win, as I said before," he continued. "We are definitely as one back there.

"We are communicating so much better and we are all on the same page in everything we do."

Damien believes the Rebels have room for a lot of improvement. Specifically, he feels the Rebs can do better against the short passing game.

"We don't think anyone is going to run past us and we feel we are doing a good job with the intermediate stuff, but we can do better on the short passes," he noted. "We need to be more aware of what teams are trying to do to us in that area.

"You can look at film all day long and see what a team is trying to do, but when they come out in a different formation and do the same thing, we have to do a better job of recognizing it before the ball is snapped. We will keep studying and working hard on that aspect in particular and also keep working hard on our overall game."

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