Redshirt freshman Alijah Jackson’s speed looks to be the difference for Robert Morris

Samuel Anthony, Digital Content Manager

“I just have to focus on my speed and I trust my eyes,” said redshirt freshman running back Alijah Jackson of the Robert Morris football team.

In the Colonials last match-up against the Bryant Bulldogs, Jackson ran for 109 yards. He became the first RMU player to do so since the 2015 season. With one milestone in hand, Jackson looks to help Robert Morris get their first conference win since the 2016 season.

“We expect to win,” said Jackson in an interview on Colonial Sports Center “And that starts in practice. You (have) to win in practice every day so you know at game time it’s easy.”

Practice is something that has certainly been paying off for Jackson this season as he has seen his workload increase weekly. During the team’s first game against Dayton, Jackson had just six carries, but in his most recent game, Jackson took the was handed the ball 27 times and additionally grabbed two receptions for 29 touches overall.

“Lately I’ve been working on my hands,” said Jackson “And also I’ve been looking at the playbook. Trying to get more familiar with the playbook and our plays.”

But with all the hard work Jackson has been putting in on the practice field, the freshman says he’s just happy to get the opportunity.

“It feels great, especially being a freshman. Getting plays early and really building (my) confidence,” said Jackson.

As an offense that has traditionally struggled, Jackson has been contributing to a Colonials offense that has outpaced opponents significantly.

Through all 11 of their games last season, Robert Morris scored a total of 112 points, one of the worst marks in the FCS. This season, through four games the Colonials have already put up 103 points nearly matching their total from last season.

Jackson was a key part in RMU’s 46-point performance against the Bryant Bulldogs, their best offensive performance since their 54-point performance against Central Connecticut back in 2013. Just more of a showing that this Colonials offense is back and ready to make a statement.

“We’re working better as a team,” said Jackson. “We’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle: quarterbacks, receivers, running backs, offensive lineman and we just got to put it together.”

This RMU offense, as a whole, has seen remarkable improvements, with the running game being the most noticeable. With the combination of Jackson and Bowling Green transfer Terence Stephens, the Colonials have gone from one of the worst rushing offenses in the nation in 2017 to 74th in the country, an improvement of nearly 50 spots in the NCAA rankings.

Robert Morris perhaps has the biggest game of their young season this upcoming Saturday in their homecoming match-up with Central Connecticut State, the defending NEC champions. A win against the Blue Devils would spark some confidence. Robert Morris still has time to make a run in the conference and to earn new head coach Bernard Clark his first conference victory.

When asked about the big atmosphere, the big time feeling of this game and whether or not his team and himself personally were ready for this monumental point in the season, Jackson replied with one word: “Absolutely.”