USC LB Jackson aims to keep cashing in after key strip-sack
LOS ANGELES (AP), — Drake Jackson, a junior outside linebacker, had a slow start to his “money year”. He failed to record a sack during the first two games of what he said would be his last season at Southern California before declaring to the NFL draft.
With Washington State backing up against its goal line on Saturday, Jackson thought of one thing as he lined-up in a three point stance. Jackson stated
” Get paid.” Jackson said, “Go get paid. It’s happened many times that I beat the tackle and it’s out so I had to make sure I got there before the ball got out .”
Jackson exploded past left-hander Liam Ryan into a goal zone and sliced at quarterback Victor Gabalis’ left arm to get the ball out. Defensive tackle Tuli Tulipulotu fell on it for a touchdown, putting the Trojans up 28-14 and effectively putting away the Cougars in what would be a 45-14 win. It might be the sequence that ignites Jackson’s ability to produce at a level comparable with his physical prowess. His teammates call him “The Freak” because of his extraordinary athleticism. Jackson is 6-foot-4 and 250 pound, and can perform backflips .
However, he has yet to become the dominant pass rusher USC has sorely needed, with 8 1/2 sacks among his 19 tackles for loss in 20 games. Jackson was only the second to be forced to fumble with Gabalis.
Defensive coach Vic So’oto stated that Jackson’s insufficient production before playing Washington State and USC’s failures to record a single sack during those games were due to a combination of bad luck and opponents using quick throws against them.
“When it comes to sacks, a lot is on the quarterback’s side. So’oto stated. “Drake, that wasn’t his best rush of this season, you know. Although he had some great rushes in the first and second games, this one was just as good and the quarterback had it There is also the question about Jackson’s position. He can still drop in coverage, but he is more natural as a defensive end. His sack was made with his hand on ground.
So’oto allows his pass rushers to set up as they wish. Jackson and other players began to change things up in the second quarter to better target Washington State’s tendencies.
” It’s time to get the ball off your chest as quickly as possible. What’s your favorite thing? Jackson stated, “Let’s all put that in what we do, and not limit men from what they have done their whole lives.”
Jackson is a versatile contributor. In the first half, he jumped out of his three-point stance and made a tackle for no loss as part of a goal line stand. His ability to react and read screen passes has been the key to both of his college interceptions.
How valuable Jackson is to NFL teams will depend on how he can be taken down. Todd Orlando, the defensive coordinator believes Jackson has felt the pressure to perform even though he was doing everything right and not getting sacks.
“He’s expecting to do a lot and is so close to it. But to finally finish one, Orlando stated. “And it was a really good play that got turned into a great play, and that’s what I liked about it because a lot of guys would have just gone through the back of somebody and taken the safety, and he went for the football.”
“Those plays just help confidence because sometimes you get in little bit of a rut,” he added. It’s not his fault. It’s just that the ball has been coming out quicker than you can get to QB Jackson. He intends to continue cashing in against Oregon State Saturday.
” “Never, ever need to stop, that’s the way it’s supposed be,” he stated.
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