Derrick Jones

Senior Derrick Jones calling for more discipline

Once again, senior Derrick Jones was asked to change positions midstream, this time from wide receiver to cornerback. He id it without hesitation, and while it has worked out OK for him individually, he wants more from the defense as the Egg Bowl approaches.

The reporter just blurted it out - what's going on with this defense? - a very legitimate question considering the Rebels had just given up 38 points to a Vandy offense that was averaging 13 points a game in conference play.

"Mostly, it's a lack of communication. We've got guys not being disciplined at times and it's not just one or two guys, it's all of us," noted senior CB Derrick Jones.

But what was unexpected was Jones' next comment - that the defensive lapses have not been frustrating.

"We can't allow ourselves to get frustrated. Sure, we know we have to do things better and we know we have to quit giving up the big play, get in position to tackle better and communicate better, but if you let frustration enter into it, you are not going to be able to focus like you need to," he explained. 

Derrick was asked, mid-year, to switch from being a lightly-used wideout to cornerback in a rotation role. For the second time in his career, he did the unselfish things and answered the call. (If you recall, he played corner earlier in his career too.)

"There are challenge that come with changing positions, but I had done it before and while it is tough, it's something I can do because of my athletic ability," he added. "All of a sudden, instead of running routes, you are back pedaling and breaking on the ball. It's just different, but I think I transitioned better this time, having done it before, than the first time I tried it."

The proof of that was in the pudding as Derrick had a pick six against Georgia in his first game back at corner.

"That was an amazing feeling and it made me believe I could really help the team at corner," he noted.

Now Jones will be playing his last game in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium against rival Mississippi State.

Being a Mississippi native, he understands the rivalry and the importance of it.

"This game means a lot to me being a Mississippian. I chose this school for a reason and I just can't see losing to those guys," he said. "Losing to them is a 365-day loss. It takes that long to get a shot at redemption. To live with that is no fun. I want to keep the trophy here like it's been the last two years."

To do that, he knows he and his defensive mates are going to have to step up their games.

"First off, Fred Ross is a very explosive receiver. He's a good route runner and he has great hands," Derrick allowed. "He's strong and he will battle you every play. I know the corners are going to have to bring it every play against him and all their receivers and even though their quarterback likes to run a lot, he can still throw the ball and is getting better in the passing game every week.

"When you have a quarterback who can run like Nick Fitzgerald can, it puts a lot of pressure on your corners because you can't jump into the boundary as quickly as you can with a passing QB. You have to hang in there longer for run support and that makes coverage more difficult. We will have to play a really good game on defense to win this game."

Can the Rebel defense, which has been an Achilles heel to the team much of year, respond?

Derrick Jones is banking on it.

He does not want to hear the question - what's going on with this defense? - again. Ever.

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