Jones Will Take What Auburn Gives
Alabama, 9-2 overall and 5-2 in Southeastern Conference games, hosts second ranked and undefeated (11-0, 7-0) Auburn in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 1:30 p.m. CST Friday. CBS will televise the game. Bama will be going for its third consecutive victory in the series.
This year, Julio Jones has 65 receptions for 885 yards. He is within two receptions of the 2007 record set by D.J. Hall. Hall set the receiving yards record in 2006 at 1,056, which is 171 yards ahead of Jones, who has two games remaining.
Jones is more concerned about one game than the yet-to-be announced bowl game.
Last year at Auburn, Bama trailed almost the entire game. With one chance to win the game, the Tide had to drive 79 yards in the fourth quarter. Three times in that drive Greg McElroy completed passes to Julio for first downs -- twice on third down plays. The drive ended with McElroy completing a short pass to Roy Upchurch to give Alabama a 26-21 victory.
"My memory is kind of clouded, but the line protected well and Greg (quarterback Greg McElroy) threw great passes, and they called my number," Jones said. "They trusted in me and I stepped up and made a play for the team."
Jones said the win didn't come the way Alabama likes to win.
"We were kind of down the whole game," said Julio. "The way we want to win is physically and dominate our opponent for 60 minutes. So we won the game, but we didn't win the game the way we want to win."
Jones has six touchdowns among his receptions this year, but the statistic that stands out is his percentage of receptions that have resulted in first downs. He has made 45 catches that have resulted in a first down and/or a touchdown, an impressive 69.2 per cent.
"I know we have to go for the sticks," Jones said. "We have to go out there with a mentality that we are going to get the first down no matter what."
Alabama's offense is playing faster in recent games. Julio is not surprised. "That's the way we've been practicing since I've been here," he said. "Up-tempo, fast getting in and out of the huddle. We just hadn't been doing it in the game early on. We'd go out there and slow it down. It's clicking for us because that's the way we practice it. How you practice is how you're going to play, and we've been practicing it like that forever."
He added that the fast pace has the advantage of "catching the defense out of position; or they can't substitute, like when we have three or four receivers in and so you get a receiver on a (line)backer."
Julio said it would be important for the offense to get touchdowns when Bama gets into the red zone because Auburn scores a lot of touchdowns.
The Bama junior is not concerned about how Auburn elects to play against him. Some receivers have had very productive games against the Auburn defense, but Jones said how Auburn played against the likes of South Carolina's Alshon Jeffrey or Georgia's A.J. Green is not necessarily how the Tigers will play against the Tide. "We have to take what the defense gives us," Jones said.
He said he wouldn't be concerned if Auburn bracketed him. "We've got other players," he said. "We've got a running game and we've got other receivers."
Jones was to begin studying Auburn film later Sunday as Alabama got started on its game week a day early for the Friday contest. But what little Jones has seen of the Tigers during the season has let him know "They are a good ball club."
Although Alabama doesn't care where it plays its games, Jones said, "Who wouldn't want to play a big game at home. You have all the fans behind you supporting you."
And, he said, noise can be a positive factor for the home team since the visitors have to try to make their checks. "It can be pretty hard on them," Julio said. "Someone might have a bust."
Although a majority of Alabamians have a great interest in the outcome of the Alabama-Auburn game, Julio didn't get interested until he was in high school. He knows it's big now. "You're going to hear about it, even around here," he said. "You can go out to the mall and people ask ‘What do you think about Auburn?' or ‘What do you think is going to happen?,' stuff like that."
Everyone will know late Friday.
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