“I’m pleased with the way that they’re working and the performance that we’ve had,” said Jones, in his second season with the Ole Miss Rebels. “Of course we have a lot of room to get better. That’s one of the things we’re focusing on this week, the little things, getting better, and making sure we’re assignment sound so we don’t have any busts in the back end, no busted coverages, things like that.”
One of the bright spots this season has been Senquez Golson. The senior has bought in and more and has led the defensive secondary troops.
Jones said he’s seen Golson develop into a highly motivated and important part of not only the defensive side of things but the entire team as a whole.
“I did notice that when I first got here,” he said of Golson being a bit timid in his approach to basically everything. “Part of Senquez’s trust issue I think he had was that I may have been his third DB coach or something like that. Our relationship is great. That’s one of the things we challenged him with this spring and this summer. I think he bought in and he started to have success on the field. I think now he realizes that it wasn’t just a coach’s speech or talk, but that it’s true and it’s real. So he’s been great."
Jones said he feels his relationship with all his players is top-notch.
“My guys all know they can come in my office and we can sit down and talk, not just about football but about life,” he said. “Every day you just talk to them, not just about football but about life. We’ll sit down and talk about how school is going.”
Certainly that goes for Golson but obviously not just him.
“And not just Senquez but any young man, once he realizes that we care more about him than just being a football player but that we care about him as a person, then they tend to let their guard down,” Jones said. “They trust you and they listen to you. And I think that all those guys know that. Yes, at the end of the day, I get more gratification if they leave here with a degree, the characteristics we put in them as a program and they can go out in society and be a productive citizen, a great husband and father. That’s when we get the gratification.”
Jones said some players who have gotten some recent time have stepped up and done well.
“Kenderius (Webster) lined up and played well. He made some mistakes, but he is still growing. I think he’s going to be a good player for us. (Kendarius) has come a long way. At the beginning of the year, it was him trying to understand what we were doing defensively. Now he understands it, and I can tell he understands it by the questions he asks from time to time. Often at times on the field, he’s making checks and talking to safeties and things like that. He’s progressing well, so I’m pleased with where he is right now.
“Kailo (Moore) did some good things. I think he had about 30 plays or so and not a lot of huge mistakes. He has continued to get better. One of the things we’re doing this week is really focusing on bringing along a lot of those young guys.” Jones continued. “I’m pleased with where they are. We still have to work to get better.”
Jones said it’s teamwork even among the coaches that helps monitor where guys are and how they are moving throughout the course of a long season.
“Coach Freeze does a great job of making sure the guys are fresh on game day,” he said. “I keep a gauge on them. I can tell if they’re fatigued and things like that. If a guy is fatigued, we may let him rotate reps. He may go every other series or something like that, if that’s what we feel we need to do to keep him fresh. So far everybody’s been good. I’ve been pleased with them.”
The young receivers have impressed Jones. He sees them from a different perspective than the offensive coaches. He sees them as players to cover and defend with his guys.
Namely Damore’ea Stringfellow, Dayall Harris, and Sammie Epps.
“If they continue to work like they’ve been working for us, those three can be a special group,” Jones said. “They have an unbelievable work ethic. You see them down there on the scout team, and they work their tails off. You ask them to run down and give us a look on special teams, and every day they go 100 miles an hour. They stay after practice doing extra things to get better. And they know right now they’re not going to play. If they continue to work like that, the skies the limit for them.
“We talk about as a defensive staff that one of the reasons we have had the success we’ve had is that every day we line up against those guys,” Jones continued. “They make us better.”
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