Kentucky Wildcats Football: How will we deal with WKU LB Andrew Jackson?

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WKU middle linebacker Andrew Jackson (4) tackles Kentucky running back Raymond Sanders (21) in action at Commonwealth Stadium in 2012.

Western Kentucky Senior inside linebacker Andrew Jackson is the undisputed heart of the Hilltoppers defense and a definite team leader. The Wildcat offense will have to worry greatly about Jackson and for good reason.

This beast of a linebacker, at 6-1, 260 pounds, is Kentucky Football’s main threat to the offense and can stuff the run as well as any linebacker in the country, as well as being a superb play-reader. He’s known for wreaking havoc on opposing run games, but he’s capable of causing many problems in the passing game too, although Kentucky Football’s main worry is his run-stopping ability and efficiency of bringing the ball-carrier down at the point of attack. In other words, guys don’t break his tackles often.

In the 2011 Kentucky vs Western Kentucky game at LP Field in Nashville, Jackson dominated, racking up 12 tackles along with 2 tackles for loss while helping his defense hold Kentucky to a measly 93 rushing yards on 33 attempts and 97 passing yards on Morgan Newton’s 7 passing completions with 18 attempts with an interception.

On to the nightmare that was the WKU-Kentucky game at Commonwealth Stadium, Jackson was the second leading tackler on the Western defense, with 8 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. His presence alone caused problems in both the running and passing games for Kentucky offense, often having to run opposite of Jackson and using extra blockers on the aggressive linebacker. This opened up more room for Jackson’s teammates to swarm to the football and that they did, holding Kentucky’s stable of good running backs to a 2.2 yards per carry average, only 41 yards on 19 attempts. Our passing game did well (if you look over the FOUR interceptions Max Smith gave away), with 335 yards on Smith’s 37-61 outing, with 2 touchdowns.

Over the 2012 season, Andrew Jackson really showed that he had made a name for himself on the National scene and was here to stay. Considered the best non-AQ conference LB, he is one of the top linebackers in the country in any conference. His season totals were a staggering 122 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 4 forced fumbles and 3 sacks. The senior has racked up the accolades, earning a host of Sun Belt conference awards, the most prestigious of which being named to the First Team All-Sun Belt conference for the second straight season. You may think that’s no big deal, but the Sun Belt has more than a few of top quality inside linebackers that could start at nearly any school in the country. And remember, he’s considered better than our own Avery Williamson by nearly every NFL scouting agency. He has been named to the 2013 Nagurski Trophy watch list, as well as being a preseason All-American by Phil Steele in his annual College Football Preview magazine.

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