Jones Frustrated at Missed Opportunities

There are various reasons for the Sun Devils underachieving 2006 campaign. Yet if you were asked to pick one group that turned in a sub par performance more than the rest, it would probably be the WR's. ASU's aerial attack was grounded for most of the season, as young wideouts like Mike Jones were going through the inevitable growing pains process, which should be a prelude to a brighter future.

"It was pretty disappointing, even though we were very young coming in," sophomore receiver Mike Jones said in regards to the young receiver core. "We had high hopes but we didn't get the ball up in the air that much. When we had a chance (later in the season) we made plays and hopefully in the future we're going to come out big and make more plays."

If the last few games of the season are any indication, the receivers are indeed starting to come into their own, and turning this Arizona State offense to one that will once again be a force to be reckoned with. When the season opened this Maroon and Gold unit boasted a strong and seasoned receiving core. As the season progressed and numerous injuries and off the filed incidents took place, younger receivers were thrusted into starting positions exposing their inexperience. Jones was somewhat more battle tested than the rest of his group, which did place him, albeit by default, as a leader. As with any leader, the position came with a great sense of responsibility. "If anybody felt any pressure it was probably myself," Jones admitted, "because I had to play more than one position with a lot of guys getting inured. So I was the only guy left with all the young guys and I had to bounce around a lot."

Jones started off the season fairly strong with nine receptions, 113 yards and one touchdown in three games. He looked like the dominant receiver the ASU offense desperately needed. However once he got injured, it became a setback for Jones as the season progressed.

Once he was hampered physically, he never returned to the form he was at in the beginning of the season. Much later in the year against Washington State he came back with a remarkable 50-yard touchdown catch that showed why he can be a quality receiver. Jones credits quarterback Rudy Carpenter with his patience and willingness to help out the group. "In some games when he (Rudy Carpenter) is on, everybody is on and the sky is the limit."

With all the success the Sun Devils offense is having as of late, their progress may be affected with the instillation of new head coach Dennis Erickson's offensive scheme. "When I first got here it was hard for me to learn everything," Jones recalled, "and then I got real comfortable with it and now we have a new coaching staff and we have to start over again. It's going to be hard but we have to make the best of it."

Jones said he still thinks that the group will be fine heading into next year and believes that with all the struggles the receiving core had, all those experiences are ultimately going to be a valuable tool in seasons to come. "You learn form your mistakes and a lot of guys made a lot of mistakes," he noted "But now we can get comfortable and just have fun next year. I expect big things out of our receivers next year."

With Koetter's swan song at Arizona State coming against Hawaii, Mike Jones looks forward to having his coach leave on a good note. "Of course we want to win the game," he said. "But now it's even bigger to win it for the coach that recruited you. If we can come out with the win it would be much better for everyone."

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