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August 25, 2014

Branden Jackson

Q.  Second year in Coach Wallerstedt's scheme.  How do you feel you came out as a defense?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  I think we came out of camp as a confident group, a group that kind of knows where we need to be and kind of learned the scheme a lot more than we did last year.  It's a relief having to go into another year with the same faces and knowing everything that is expected and things like that.  So confidence was big coming out of that camp.

Q.  Why do you think this is the year you guys can stop the run?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  I think this is the year because we've always had good players on the defensive line.  We've always had players that were capable whether we were underweight as some people may look at it undersized.  But this year we have depth at positions, and we actually go three deep, and I think that goes a long way keeping people fresh.

Q.  Looking at the two deep, just talk about the confidence you had as a leader in your two deep as a defensive whole?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  Our two deep is just as good as our one deep.  A lot during the camp we were switching it up, and the twos would go ahead and get the one reps and things like that.  Then we'd miss and match and try to get to gel with the ones and twos mixing, and there was never a drop off between the two teams and things like that.
So a lot of the two deep will be starting throughout the year.  They may not start week one, but they're just as capable starting week two, three and four and things like that.  So, yeah, the two deep is pretty good.  I'm very confident and happy with the production of those guys and the effort they gave during camp.

Q.  Coach Kingsbury talked about how they put the onus on you guys this year about the turnovers and stopping the run, not to put as much of a public emphasis on that.  Have you noticed that or talked about it amongst yourselves?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  Well, last year whenever Coach Kingsbury first came in that was the thing he was talking about and preaching and harping on us guys going from last to first and flipping it and getting more turnovers and stop turning the ball over for offense.  This year it was the same thing he's been preaching, but I think everyone on defense kind of bought in now because we understand that not only are we capable, but it's what's needed for this team to go to the next level.
We had the players who have been here, we have the coaches and the familiarity.  But, yeah, we took it on our own shoulders and he doesn't have to preach to us as much.  We're going for five or six turnovers at practice, and if we don't, it's a captain‑led punishment that we do.  That's just a team thing and nothing to do with coaches, so it's taken very seriously this year.

Q.  What's it mean to party at the ball?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  Party at the ball means to just celebrate.  At the end of the day a lot of people put pressure on themselves, and football is just a game, a game we love and we hope that it will bring many gifts to us.  But we have to enjoy the game and it has to be fun.  So every time someone makes a big tackle or every time is not gets a fourth down stop or touchdown, things like that, we want to party at the ball and celebrate with your teammates and enjoy the environment.  You only get to be a college football player once, so I'm just trying to enjoy that.

Q.  What is the captain's punishment if you don't get the five or six turnovers?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  It's led by the captains.  So our leader which came out earlier, Davis, Bradley, Kenny, and Sam Eguavoen, some days we'll do up downs, some days we'll do some half gashes, but it's a captain‑led thing, whatever they decide to do for our turnover margin being too low or high.

Q.  What does V.J. bring to the defense?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  V.J. brings passion.  He's a passionate guy.  Just like (Indiscernible) when I came as a freshman, very vocal, very loud, very active and enthusiastic.  He just loves the game.  It bleeds over to other people.  When he's running out there and screaming at the top of his lungs, it's like you can't stay quiet and stay calm when V.J. is out there on the field.  It's just wild and chaotic chaos, but it's organized chaos, and that's what he brings.

Q.  Have you thought about how much stopping the run will in turn help the pass‑rush?  Because instead of 3rd and 1 or 3rd and 2, a 3rd and 8 or 9 will make it more for the pass rush guy.
BRANDEN JACKSON:  Definitely.  We understand if they can keep running the ball, no one's going to get a sack or rush the passer if they can hand the ball off to the back field.  I think this is a thing we felt as a defense that a lot of teams kind of change their game plans and run them more towards us.  That's something we're trying to flip and start a new tradition and we'll stop all of that.
The coaches helped us out by getting us the guys and the size to help with that.  Now it's all on us to just take what we've learned in camp and produce on the field.

Q.  Do you have a set number of sacks in your mind that you want to reach this year?  Do you have a number?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  I mean, I just want to be one of the most prolific pass rushers in the country, and if I can lead the Big 12 in sacks, and I think I have the capability and confidence to do it.  So I know I want plus double digits as much as I can.

Q.  Defensive ends are known for their sack dance.  Is there a dance you were working on?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  Not really.  Coach Smith gave him a couple suggestions and things he's seen with when he was with the Jets in Baltimore that he thought would be kind of cool.  But with the new rules and penalties, I don't think I'll be dancing too much.  I would hate to get a sack and then get a 15 yard penalty taxed on top of it, so won't be too much dancing going on.

Q.  How much different does this defense look based on the new names that you guys have, especially in the front seven?  How much different has it looked to you this fall?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  I think we passed the eyeball test.  We passed the airplane test.  When we got off the airplane, you know this is a defensive line.  This is a huge group.  It's not 6'2", 270 guys anymore.  Everyone's 6'3" and above and 300‑pounders.  If you look at Rika, he's a massive person.  6'2", 367, something like that and he can move.  So when we get off the touch‑‑ when you look at your defensive or offensive line you should be intimidated.  It should be the guys that when you're out nobody wants to bother you, and we have that look now.

Q.  Can you talk about the guy backing up Gary Moore and his transition and how he's progressed?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  Gary is freakishly athletic.  He came in as a receiver, but he's always been an angry player.  He's so violent.  We always felt he would come to defense and now he's come to it.  He's hit it full speed.  He's fast, athletic, and aggressive.  He reminds me of me when I started to first play defense.
I know me and him will room together this year and I'll take him under my wing.  I know he can be a great player as long as he buys into the program.  He flashes every day.  There is not a day goes by without a sack.  I'm really excited to see what Gary Moore will produce this year, and I think it will shock a lot of people.

Q.  Talk about the pressure on your shoulders to be the number one guy on the defensive line?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  It's a lot of pressure.  Since I've come in here I always had Kerry and Dartwan there so I could hide and do my part.  Now everyone's looking towards me for leadership and make that big play when we need it.  It's something that I wasn't really comfortable with.  But as the spring went on, I just realized that I'm an older guy now and I have to face it.  There is no more hiding in the shadows and waiting for someone else to do it.
I like being the guy to get it done.  I'm not a hurrah big talking guy, but I'm a do as I do guy and lead by example.  I'm excited to see what I can do in this role this year.

Q.  Davis said he takes the boys out to eat.  Are you jealous of that?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  No, Davis put it out there.  He took all the chubby ones to eat, and I know Miss Dana wasn't happy with that because we're all on a strict diet and weight program.  But he kind of put the pressure on me, because right after that I had Rika and Keland saying when are we going out to eat?  So I think this weekend I'll take them out to eat and get them a little something.  I'll flip the bill.  We might be eating at Chick‑fil‑A or something, but it's all on me.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  Kenny's just a football player.  When you see him, the things he's able to do is very inspiring.  We always joke about him, yeah, you look the part.  You look like a defensive player, but it's a mentality thing.  It's something when you're an offensive player you can't just switch it on.  He's shocked all of us, and he's one of the most aggressive guys out there.
It's actually kind of funny to think that he ever played offense as aggressive as he is and as well as he's picking up this defense.  I didn't know until last week that he didn't even play defense in high school.  So he's just a football guy who can do whatever you ask him to.  Like Kenny's going to make a lot of noise at that ready position.

Q.  What have you seen from their offense that you guys need to stop Saturday?
BRANDEN JACKSON:  Central Arkansas is a great group that does a lot of great things.  They run and pass the ball and have a lot of different schemes, so we have to be gap sound and read our keys and things like that.  They have a lot of things that make you think one thing when they're doing another, and they have play makers on the offensive side of the ball too.  So it will be interesting to see how we're going to stop that offense.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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