Jackson shines while father watches

Tuesday, October 17th 2006, 10:01 pm
By: News On 6

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ Keith Jackson the elder was high above the field in his usual Saturday spot, doing color commentary on the radio for Arkansas football.

Then his son, the Razorbacks' 296-pound defensive tackle, intercepted a pass and ran 69 yards for a touchdown _ making it hard for a father to be coherent on the air.

``I said I was so glad I didn't have to do the play-by-play,'' Jackson said. ``I was extremely excited.''

Jackson better get used to it, because his son _ who shares the name Keith Jackson _ is having a quite a senior season. He was named Southeastern Conference defensive lineman of the week for his performance in No. 15 Arkansas' 63-7 win over Southeast Missouri State on Saturday. The previous week, he was named national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation.

When Jackson arrived at Arkansas in 2003, he wasn't quite following in his father's footsteps. The elder Jackson played football too, but he went to Oklahoma and was a tight end.

The younger Jackson played as a freshman _ he made seven tackles in Arkansas' win over Missouri in the Independence Bowl that season. Then, after his sophomore season, he had to make an adjustment.

The Razorbacks had hired Reggie Herring, a demanding defensive coordinator.

``He jumped on me pretty hard,'' Jackson said. ``He just did it to motivate me. He made me a better player. I love him to death _ never played for a defensive coach like that ever.''

Jackson was a second-team All-SEC selection last season, and he's lived up to expectations this year. In Arkansas' win at then-No. 2 Auburn two weekends ago, Jackson _ one of the team's captains _ had seven tackles and 1 1/2 sacks.

``He's the lead horse. He has really matured. He has gotten smarter on the field,'' coach Houston Nutt said. ``When he was voted captain, he took it to another level. I can't say enough good things about him. Everything means more to seniors, especially Keith.''

Arkansas' defense started the 2006 season on a difficult note _ a 50-14 loss to Southern California. After a 20-0 win over Utah State that proved little, the Razorbacks struggled with missed tackles in a win at Vanderbilt. But Arkansas played well against the run in a double-overtime win over Alabama in late September, then controlled the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense in the 27-10 victory over Auburn.

Jackson says coaches are keeping the players focused by showing them film of earlier failures.

``We really haven't watched a lot of film on our opponents like Auburn and Southeast Missouri,'' Jackson said. ``Our coaches always put in Vanderbilt and Utah (State) and USC just to show how bad we looked right then.''

There hasn't been much to criticize these last couple weeks, though, and Jackson and others on defense have taken a bit of time to enjoy the recent success. Nutt was excited for Jackson when he scored, and now the lineman is being asked to compare his speed to that of his father, who played in the NFL.

The younger Jackson scoffed at the idea that he's as fast as dad was, but ...

``I'd get him now,'' the son said.

But Dad seems content to sit and watch. He's been working with Arkansas' broadcasting network since before his son decided to go there, and now he's savoring young Keith's final season as a Razorback.

``For the last four years,'' the older Jackson said, ``that has really been a thrill.''