“I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we’ve got to do something,” sophomore safety Tyvis Powell told BuckeyeSports.com.
Jones gave them the reason to throw the party of the century. The Cleveland Glenville product was the third-string quarterback in August and moved up the depth chart because of injuries to Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett. Called into duty for the Big Ten title game, Jones put together a sublime performance.
In the first start of his college career, the sophomore quarterback completed 12 of 17 passes for 257 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was handed the Grange-Griffin Big Ten Championship MVP trophy, which should provide him and Powell with the perfect party ornament.
“We worked all week for this and as a team we had faith in one another,” Jones said. “There was no down time and we treated this like it was our game to take and we were going to leave it all on the field.”
Powell saw his roommate’s preparation firsthand. At times when Jones might otherwise have been at the apartment, he was instead at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center preparing to crack the No. 2 total defense in the country. Just as much as he saw Jones putting in work at the facility, Powell also saw where Jones wasn’t spending his time this week.
“To see the way he focused this week… he wasn’t at the house like he usually is,” Powell said. “He spent a lot of time at the Woody. He did a lot of throwing and a lot of film study. He stayed overtime at the Woody, so the work he put in this week I knew he was leaving no doubt that he’d be ready to play.”
At least a portion of that work ethic came because Jones saw what was done at the position by the guys who were ahead of him.
Miller was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in both Jones’ true freshman and redshirt freshman seasons, and then Barrett went 11-1 as a starter this year and could still be named a Heisman Trophy finalist despite his injury.
“He understood the responsibility he had not only to the team in general, but to that room," Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. "He had two guys in that room who had done some amazing things for this university. He took that responsibility very, very seriously, he prepared as hard as I’ve seen a quarterback prepare throughout the week given the short time he had to prepare. I go back to the culture that coach Meyer has instilled in this team and then the brotherhood we have in that room. Those guys truly love each other. There’s no ill will, yeah they compete, but it’s a brotherly competition more than it’s anything else.”
Jones spent all week being called Ohio State’s third-string quarterback, but the protective bubble of the WHAC and the Ohio State football team kept him confident.
“I wasn’t worried. I told y’all last week – we’re fine,” redshirt freshman linebacker Darron Lee said. “What people don’t understand, man, is that our quarterbacks do a really good job of preparing just in case something were to happen, like an injury or something. Dale was prepared. Dale was ready. We had all the faith in Cardale. There was no worry on that end.”
Instead, there was a four-hour long coming out party on the field in Indianapolis and in front of a national TV audience.
“It was very fun, going out there showing everybody what we can do when we all come together as one,” Jones said.
The party he’s going home to might be even better.