Jacobs is fine with coach's interior motives

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 16, 2011 - 2:39 PM
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Gophers defensive end Anthony Jacobs (bottom) brought down Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase last season.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune file

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His two sacks last season, and 4 1/2 for his career, are more than any other Gophers player can brag about. But that doesn't mean Anthony Jacobs can coast through camp, assured of his job.

On the contrary: The Northfield High School graduate has taken on one of the biggest challenges of his career. He switched positions for his final year.

The move from defensive end, where he has made 67 tackles in his three seasons at Minnesota, to defensive tackle was part necessity, part strategy, coach Jerry Kill said. The position became vacant when Jewhan Edwards quit the team last January, but Kill and his staff were considering the move all along.

"That's a 300-pound guy, and we're looking for some push up in there that we didn't have a year ago in the pass rush," Kill said. "It's good to get somebody in there that can get some push and be a defensive-end type, and add more athleticism to the group."

Jacobs, who has appeared in 32 consecutive games, was receptive to the move, especially after a summer of working on his 6-2, 295-pound body. "We worked on a lot of technical things like footwork, taking on double teams, all type of things," the 22-year-old said. And of replacing Edwards, whom he used to line up alongside?

"One man's loss is another man's opportunity," Jacobs said. "You just have to move on."

Now he lines up next to tackle Brandon Kirksey, which means he gets to hear his fellow senior's running dialogue. "Brandon's very vocal, but I love playing next to him," Jacobs said. "We both have the same goals. ... He and I have been through a lot of games."

Just not in this alignment. Kill pronounced himself pleased with Jacobs' transition, and satisfied that the shift is a good one. "It's like in baseball -- you better be tough up the middle," the coach said.

Welcome mat stays out

Football coaches are notorious paranoids, but Kill is resisting running a top-secret camp. In fact, he's making it more open that even he planned.

Convinced that his players work harder with an audience, the coach announced Monday that the public is invited to the Gophers' workouts for the rest of the week. Open practices originally were scheduled to end Tuesday, but he sees no harm in extending the schedule.

USC scouts want to watch? Let 'em, he said.

"There are no secrets," Kill said. All teams "are busy with what we're doing right now --fundamental stuff. ... I think fans understand once we get into the season, we've got to put it on lockdown. But this is good for everybody."

Tuesday (9:50 a.m.) and Saturday (9:40 a.m.) workouts will be held in TCF Bank Stadium. Wednesday and Friday are two-a-day sessions (8:50 a.m. and 4:50 p.m.) at the Gibson-Nagurski practice field, as is Thursday's single practice (3:55 p.m.).

"If we're going to tell everybody it's their football team, and then tell them they can't come, I don't think that's very good," Kill said.

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