Jones: "Keep Trying to Make Plays"

Sophomore defensive end Datone Jones talked about playing inside a little last week, why he thinks UCLA's defense was better against Washington, and how the defensive leadership has stepped up...

DATONE JONES spoke to us after practice this week.

You played inside a little last week … was that because Jerzy Siewierski was out?

‘'That's just … Coach (Todd Howard) just moved me there just trying me out to see how I looked there, just messing around with the d-lineman, just like Justin Tuck of the New York Giants, you know? He's versatile. That's how I feel I am. I just moved there for a little bit on a couple of pass-rushing plays and I did my thing.''

Is that something you were excited about doing?

‘'I didn't really mind. It's just like playing tight side end. At 3-technique, it's the same thing because I'm getting blocked by a guard and a tackle and at tight side end I'm getting blocked by a tight end and a tackle. It's the same thing for me. I didn't mind that at all.''

How big of an adjustment is it up front, because Jerzy is a pretty valuable piece in there?

‘'It's really not that big because in high school I played 3-technique, I played all of the positions on the d-line and I did really good at them, so I told Coach Howard here, ‘You know I can play every position on the defensive line.' And he was like, ‘Nah, you look kind of small.' And then this year he tried me out and I could hold my own there, so it worked out well.''

The defense this past week was a little more active than it had been …

‘'Yeah, because, you know, everywhere we've been going people have been taking shots at us. That's what we've been hearing – that we're not a dominant ‘D.' We take that personally against a good Washington team and we showed them that we are dominant. That was our mindset and is from here on out.''

Was that dominance coming from being more active, blitzing more, pressuring more?

‘'Pretty much, it came from everybody just coming out and not being flat because every other week we were coming out flat. The whole team, we just felt like we could man up on anybody and just beat them when we really weren't. It just hit us in the mouth that we weren't that dominant when we come on out. It was hype, you know?''

How does that happen? All year, starting with San Diego State they came out and score, score …

‘'I guess it's just having too many play makers not being active, you know what I mean? I'm not saying that our leaders aren't active, but the teams that we played, we didn't come out how we're supposed to come out and they got hold of us before we got hold of them.''

So you think that has changed now?

‘'That's changed, most definitely.''

Was it just up to the individuals? Did the seniors say anything about it? Was there talk there?

‘'The seniors, Reggie (Carter) and all them, talked about it. We have defensive meetings where we always talk about it. We were saying we need more leaders on the team, not just the seniors and everybody is going to have to be a playmaker. We all took our positions personal and Reggie was saying, if you're on this ‘D' then you should be able to hold your own and make plays.''

So, you guys were a little too comfortable with yourselves then?

‘'We felt like it … not any more, though.''

How big of a change is that, because you guys were put in some tough situations against Washington with all of the turnovers and didn't give up a ton of points …

‘'Great defenses are going to be put through those type of changes and we just stepped up and just made big plays and got off the field.''

The past couple games – Arizona, Oregon - their quarterbacks got the ball out really quickly. The pass rush, how do you see that progressing in the last three games?

‘'Well, we worked hard just to get there. We broke down film, we keep breaking down film. That's all you can do – keep trying to make plays. If I pass rush, nine times out of 10 I might not get there, but one time I'm going to get there and that's all you need. One time. One big play can change the whole momentum of the game. That's all you can do. They can keep getting rid of it, but they're going to have to hold the ball once and one time, we're going to get there.''

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