Mike Jones Ready to Lead

<P>The Iowa Hawkeyes have a rich tradition of producing outstanding Big Ten offensive linemen. In fact, many of the recruits that I speak with are referring to Iowa as ‘Offensive Line University'. Perhaps their patron saint might be Mike Jones. After all, Jones played on Iowa's line as a true freshman in 2003, something that Iowa fans are not accustomed to seeing out of their trenchmen.

Truth be told, Jones was going to redshirt until injuries to Brian Ferentz and David Walker left the Hawkeyes empty handed.

Jones learned several lessons the hard way once he was thrown into the mix, but he was also a part of the line that mauled Florida in Iowa's 37-17 Outback Bowl victory.

In 2004, Jones is not quite a veteran, but he is not green, either.

We spoke with him recently to get his thoughts on the upcoming season and more

If you read the preseason football magazines, there are questions as to whether or not this Iowa offensive line can live up to the play of the last two years. Do you think it can, and do you think that can come together before the first game>

I definitely think so. Right now we have a lot of our guys out there, who may not have a lot of game experience, they have been around here a long time and they can do the right thing out there and make an impact for us."

Have you bought into the coaches preaching that ‘This is the Iowa system', even though you have so many new faces?

Yes, definitely. I think that is what they always preach here. They (the pundits) said the same thing last year when four guys left here for the NFL, but it didn't worry us or phase us, we kept going out there and doing our thing, and that is all that we can do.

With your development, you look to your left and #78 is gone, and you look to your right, and you will see another new center. Do you think that will impact your performance? Are you a leader now?

I think that our offensive line leads the team; that is how I like to think about it. When I look to my right, I see Mike Elgin, and I have a lot of confidence in him. He is definitely proven himself to me and to the rest of the team throughout the spring and summer. We expect him to do a great job this year.

With zone blocking, was it hard to pick up? And did you practice at guard last year before being called into action, or did you move there out of need?

Before I played against Ohio State, I was at tackle on the scout team, and never really worked with our offense much. But zone blocking to me was not that hard to learn, as I did some of that in high school and I learned some of it in camp, so I pretty much knew the offense before I played against Ohio State. But that being said, it was still a learning experience there and under those situations.

You have played at Ohio State and against Florida in a bowl game now, do you think things will seem like you are just playing football again, more reacting rather than thinking?

I think after the first play against Ohio State, it seemed like I was just playing football. All of the nerves pretty much leave you once you get out onto the field. I am just ready to play some football this year and see what we can accomplish.

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