On Sunday, the reason given for Jarron Jones’ limited playing time against Navy was the inexact match of his skills as they related to properly defending the Midshipmen’s triple-option.
Tuesday, at his weekly press conference as the Irish began preparation for another triple-option attack – Army’s – Brian Kelly more than hinted that the fifth-year senior nose tackle lost his chance for more than 12 snaps against Navy during the week on the practice field.
“Preparation is important,” Kelly said. “Preparation is important. That’s all I’ll say.”
Pressed further as to why Jones – a dominant force the previous week in a 30-27 victory over Miami – saw action on just six plays in the first quarter and six plays in the third, Kelly said: “All of our guys get the equal opportunity to prepare during the week, and then we’re going to play the guys that prepare to play the option.
“They all get reps and they all get a chance to get in there. It comes down to preparation, and if they prepare the way they need to prepare, they’ll all get a chance to play.”
It was a different tune 48 hours earlier in the aftermath of Navy’s 28-27 victory over the Irish in Jacksonville. Kelly said Jones’ limited action was a match-up issue against Navy’s triple-option with no mention of his practice effort during the week.
“It’s a whole different animal relative to option,” said Kelly during his Sunday afternoon teleconference. “He’s got a job to do and he can’t be the kind of force he was in a traditional offensive set.
“He’s got to play a gap and he has a responsibility. If they choose to run triple-option – even if he’s a force and he’s destroying his guy and getting upfield – they’re going to pull the ball and work the ball out to the perimeter.
“(The opponent) can take a Jarron Jones out of the game, even if he’s being disruptive. It really neutralizes players like him when you play Navy.”
Contrary to previous years, Navy has relied less on its fullback in 2016. Fullbacks Chris High and Shawn White have combined for 105 carries (13.1 per game) in eight games.
Army, which also uses the triple-option, has handed the football to fullbacks Andy Davidson and Darnell Woolfolk 195 times (21.6 per game) in nine games.
Do the match-up claims of Sunday mean that Jones’ role against Army will be as limited as it was against Navy?
“We’ll find out…We’ll find out,” Kelly said. “(Jones) wants to play a lot this week. We’ve got Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and we’ll see what happens.
“You’ve got to prepare for the option. You’ve got to prepare for it every day.”