Jones, Freshmen, Lead The Scout Team

It's kind of hard not to tackle the guy wearing the red jersey, when that guy refuses to give up the football while running the option in practice. Either Demetrius Jones knows that he is invincible carrying the rock in the don‘t-touch red mesh as the scout-team quarterback simulating Navy's offense, or the freshman is itching to make a play and impress, even if it is on the practice field.

And that's exactly what he is doing, impressing people.

<>Jones has the option to pitch the ball but usually decides to keep, just like Navy's quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada is expected to do when the 9th-ranked Irish (6-1) take on the Midshipmen (5-2) in Baltimore, Saturday.

While the ND defenders will be able to lay all the hits they want on Kaheaku-Enhada, they have to pull back when the 6-foot-4, 202-pound Jones goes streaking down the field asking for it.

"They bump him a few times and then I yell at them," head coach Charlie Weis stated.

Jones is learning the Navy offense, wishbone mixed with run-and-shoot with some twists pretty much on the fly, and is giving his teammates a good look, maybe even a better one from what they will see this weekend. The Chicago product is definitely bigger and probably faster than 5-foot-11 188-pound Kaheaku-Enhada. His junior year at Morgan Park High, Jones rushed for 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns.

"Sometimes he gets carried away and wants to run the ball all the way to the house so sometimes we put a hat on him every now and then," linebacker Joe Brockington said.

"He's giving us a great look," cornerback Terrail Lambert said. "Having a dual-threat quarterback is a big help as far as giving the defense a look, because that's basically what their quarterback is. It gives us a game-type situation as far as personnel is concerned."

"That red jersey, they say to lay off him but it's kind of hard to when he is trying to juke everyone out," defensive end Chris Frome said. "Eventually we just wrap him up and give him a pop every now and again. Maybe he'll start talking."

Defensive coordinator Rick Minter has broken down the film from practice, and is also impressed with Jones.

"He's doing a nice job," Minter said. "A very good athlete. Puts the stress on us on defense. This way your look team really is responsible for helping prepare you to see the good picture… they've done a nice job and will continue to get better because down the road there's a similar concept."

Jones' responsibilities at practice will change next week as Notre Dame will be preparing to host North Carolina and its more traditional offense. Then it will be back to deception and precision as the Irish prepare for Air Force. Weis has made it a point to let his team know how important the show team is for games like Navy and Air Force.

"I spent more time encouraging them in a meeting situation," he said. "Sometimes people look at the show team as not being important. So when the head coach starts off the team meeting today talking about the show team, obviously I am thinking how important the significance of the offensive show team is, and usually you get better production out of them because I put an importance on them."

Jones and company have had some troubles running Navy's offense, but they are starting to get it.

"They spent a lot of their meeting time that they have in a walk through type of thing," Weis said. "You can't go putting uniforms on because then it's extra practice. I'm assuming that (Wednesday's) practice the offensive show team did a better job simulating Navy's offense than they did (Tuesday)."

"It's a challenge," Minter said. "Just as an example, they learned it (Tuesday), and did it better (Wednesday), and it will be better (today). Just like anything, they get better with repetition."

Jones hasn't been the only standout on the scout team. Running back Munir Prince has been inserted at slot or pitch back to simulate Navy's speed. That's another spot where the Irish are getting a better look.

"He is probably just as quick or quicker than anyone we'll go against," Frome said.

Frome has also been impressed with the scout-team offensive line, particularly with Matt Carufel and Dan Wenger.

"They are physical linemen, they are freshman, they have a lot ahead of them. They are big guys and they come off the ball and give you a shot. It's nice to go against guys like that, especially freshmen. They have great careers ahead of them."

Frome and many of the guys on a veteran defense have played against the Navy offense, and are familiar with the attack. Brockington and Lambert, however, will be playing against this style for the first time in awhile.

"Maybe in high school and I'm not really even sure if we played a team like Navy in high school that ran the option like that," the senior Brockington said. They ran some wishbone but nothing like Navy does.

"It's just a matter of seeing it, the more you see it the better you are at it."

"I actually haven't faced an option team since my junior year of high school, but I'm somewhat familiar with the process," the junior Lambert said. "The big thing with the option game is just having eye discipline and reading all your keys necessary to make plays."

Thanks to Jones and company, they‘ve had a great refresher course. Weis even sees potential in Jones as an option quarterback.

"He would probably look pretty good running it to tell you the truth," he said. "He has a lot of skills but I think if he had his druthers, he'd be dropping back and he'd be slinging it."

This week he's tucking and running.


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