Eddie Jones: Rising to the occasion
A basic lesson for all players on the Texas football team is one of being ready to play at all times and stepping up when an opportunity presents itself.
For redshirt freshman DE Eddie Jones, that time came in the second quarter of the Longhorns' 21-13 win over Arkansas State on Saturday. After starting DE Brian Orakpo left the field with an injury, Jones was ready to fill the gap.
"We prepare to play each play like we're starters," Jones said. "So we're all getting the same amount of reps and the same amount of time. I knew Brian was going to play most of the game, but when he went down, I was standing right behind (defensive ends) coach (Oscar Giles) and I was prepared. I already had my mindset to be prepared to play."
"We try to say we have no starters," Giles followed. "Coach Brown practices as we say without a depth chart, so at any time, any of those guys can come up and be a starter. We try to practice as if they're going to be starters, and that really helps us out because the mental rep is as important as the physical rep."
Leaning on the repetition of practice, Jones not only helped fill the spot, but also found another kind of spot on the field at a critical time before halftime. With just under a minute to go and Arkansas State on Texas' 13-yard line, he read what was happening as ASU attempted a pass toward the end zone.
"We had called a play, and I talked with Scott Derry about what we were going to do during the play," Jones recalled. "When I dropped back into coverage, I looked in my peripheral and saw that (CB) Deon (Beasley) had left, and I saw the quarterback look over my head at the wide receiver. I settled right there. Then I just jumped and caught the ball. I wasn't going to let him catch it over me, so I just sat back and tried to do what coach taught us to do - if we get our four crossovers and we get settled, we're bound to catch an interception sometime."
And this was his time. Jones pulled in the pass for a touchback to preserve a 14-3 lead.
"It was a great call first of all by Coach (Duane) Akina," Giles said. "Right before that, there was a 40-yard play. He made the call and Eddie executed it to a tee. Not too many DEs can catch the ball like he did, but it was a great play by him and a big play for our defense."
The play left Jones with only his own teammates to worry about before heading to the locker room at halftime.
"All I remember is running back to the sideline and I got tackled again." Jones laughed. "Everyone was happy and glad the defense was able to put the offense back on the field."
Jones stepped in and got the job done, not only on the interception, but also throughout the game. Which, as Giles pointed out, was impressive play for his first collegiate action. Something he hopes to see more of as the season progresses from all of the young defensive ends.
"Eddie is a very emotional, young man, very enthusiastic," Giles said. "When the opportunity came, he stepped up right away. I'm looking forward to seeing big things from Eddie, along with Lamarr (Houston), Sam Acho, Russell Carter - all those young guys are ones that can show production and show improvement. Hopefully we'll improve each and every week. This was Eddie's first chance to get on the field, so hopefully we'll see more improvement of him and all the young guys."