Along Comes Jones: Junior CB Stepping Up

Jonathan Jones is taking a bigger role in the defense this season as a junior cornerback for the Auburn football Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Hampered by injuries last season, speedy cornerback Jonathan Jones has stayed healthy as a junior and is tied for the team lead in interceptions with Auburn at the halfway point of the 2014 football regular season.

The former national high school hurdles champion from Carrollton, Ga., was one of the bright spots for the Tigers in their first loss of the season, a 38-23 loss to Mississippi State that propelled the Bulldogs to a number one national ranking this week.

Jones came through with two pass interceptions against Dak Prescott and came close to a third.

With the Tigers having a week off, Jones said his team has an opportunity to use the extra time to make corrections and come back for the second half of the season a better team like the 2013 team managed to do.

“We have a lot of guys who were there last year and know one loss doesn’t put you out,” Jones pointed out. “You have just got to keep fighting and play each game as it comes.”

Jonathan Jones makes a defensive play vs. D'Runnya Wilson of Mississippi State.

Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said that he thought the cornerback performed well against the Bulldogs, even on a play Jones was flagged for pass interference on a fourth down and eight play from the AU 26 in the fourth quarter. Prescott threw the football to D’Runnya Wilson, who got the benefit of a highly questionable call that was ruled defensive pass interference.

“I think he played pretty good and I really thought he was in good position on the call that he got,” Johnson said. “There was a lot of pushing and shoving by both guys and I don’t know how you just call it on one instead of the other.

“We get them for pre-snap penalties or post-whistle penalties--what we call dumb penalties, judgement things,” the defensive coordinator pointed out. “When they are competing like that you just try to do this--you have got to turn, you have got to get your hand here, you have got to look, you have got to do whatever. You try to fix the fundamental of it, but frankly they were both pushing, they both had their hands up high. We didn’t get the call or rather we got the call against us.”

Johnson said it is part of standard procedure to get feedback from the SEC on calls like the one on Jones. “We always ask them and I'm not questioning the officials, but we send them in. It is part of the whole routine so they can evaluate themselves and a lot of times they can explain to us--here is what the player is going to have to do if you don’t want that call and the last time we sent him in he has got to get his head around and make an attempt to find the ball and he did, but there was contact.

“We thought it was contact from both sides so I don't know if it was a missed call,” Johnson added. ‘I just felt like it was a tough call that went against us.”

Jones, who has three interceptions this season, has 16 tackles with five coming against Mississippi State. He also deflected two other passes thrown by the Bulldogs.

The cornerback and his teammates will have to wait until a week from Saturday to get back on the field when they play game seven vs. South Carolina at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The kickoff time for that contest has not been finalized. It will either be 6:15 p.m. CDT if the game is televised on ESPN or 6:30 p.m. if is shown on ESPN2 or the SEC Network.

The Tigers are 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC. The Gamecocks, who were off last Saturday, will take a 2-3 record into a home game this week vs. Furman.

“I know we’re going to be itching to get right back out of the field, but I think it’s great timing,” Jones said of his team’s bye week. “We will get everything corrected and get ready for the next game.”

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