CHAPEL HILL – Tim Jackson came to UNC thinking he would be the next in a long line of edge rushers but after a move to defensive tackle, how have his goals changed?
Jackson is fighting for a starting spot at DT
When did the coaching staff tell you about the move?
“I first found out about it mid-way through the spring,” the junior said. “They still wanted me to get reps at end during the spring but I knew that I would be moving to tackle in the fall. I tried to gain 10-15 pounds over the summer and watching tape on inside guys.
“I definitely had my doubts because I didn’t know if I could hold up down there. I knew it wasn’t as glorified a position as end. I’ve seen guys like Robert Quinn, Michael McAdoo and Quinton Coples at end and coming in initially I thought I would be fulfilling their role. But the move to tackle is what the team needs in this new defense and it fits my strengths.”
New skills learned?
“This camp has definitely been a new experience for me. I’ve been moved down to defensive tackle and it’s been an adjustment period. The schemes are different, the way of playing and everything is different. I’m just trying to do the best that I can for my team.
“You definitely need to be stronger at the point of attack. You’re dealing with a lot more double teams. The guys are bigger and the action happens more quickly because you’re so close to the ball.”
Weight added for the transition?
“Last year I played at 260 and right now I’m around 270 to 275. 280 is my goal but it’s kind of hard to keep the extra weight on with all the running around that we’re doing.”
At 6-5, Jackson has to play with more leverage than his shorter teammates
Any skills transferable from playing at end?
“Definitely. Being faster than most of the guys is an advantage but at the same time, speed isn’t the only thing because you have to be a man down there to take on the double teams.”
Help with getting to play next to Sylvester Williams?
“No question. Sylvester does get a lot of attention and command some double teams but every now and then I’m getting as many double teams as him. But he gives me some tricks and tips that he does to hold point and keep those guys from the linebackers.”
How do you feel like you’ve progressed?
“Everyday I’m learning more and more. I’m trying to work on the things that I do wrong. I make that my focus in the next practice to correct those mistakes. Every day is a learning experience.”
Tougher because of height?
“I’m constantly being told to keep low, keep my pads down and to not standup fully when I come off the ball. Because I’m 6-5 it’s harder because I’m not 6-1, or 6-2 and I have to play with a lot more leverage to hold my own down there.”
Learning from (former UNC DE to DT) Quinton Coples?
“He’s a phenomenal athlete, good hands, strong arms and he was able to keep offensive linemen off of him. I talked to him about the transition and he basically just told me that I need to be a man down there.”
Toughest part of transition?
“I’m used to keying on one tackle across from me but now when I’m at tackle you have to focus on the center and both guards because you’re going to get action from all three of those guys. That’s been a tough transition.”
What are the rewards at defensive tackle?
“The rewards is to see the linebackers running free and making plays in the backfield. If I luck up and get in the backfield too then that’s good too. You don’t get much daylight in the backfield at tackle but when you do then you know you did something right.”
Will you move from tackle to end within the game?
“That depends on how the other guys progress like Jessie Rogers. If he can’t make it at end then I could go back out but if he stays there then I’m prepared to stay at tackle all season.”