Jones’ Approach: Right Attitude, Restart On Monday
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Reuben Jones, like many West Virginia fans, looked a bit stunned on Saturday afternoon. A few minutes after the Mountaineers’ one-sided 38-17 loss to Texas Tech, Jones appeared to be still processing his thoughts after the WVU defense yielded five touchdowns on the Red Raiders’ first five possessions.
To be fair, speaking to college-age athletes just a few minutes removed from disappointing performances can be difficult. With emotions still running high, reading too much into responses or body language can yield an inaccurate picture. However, Jones, a senior who has been through this process more than once, collected himself to offer some revealing statements concerning the events of the day.
Faced with a Texas Tech offensive line that was markedly better than the Baylor blockers of the previous week, West Virginia’s defensive front was ineffective, garnering no sacks and just two tackles for losses. That was just the opposite of what Jones expects from himself and his teammates.
“They were a decent o-line, but that’s not how you are supposed to go in the game. As a defensive lineman, you are are supposed to go into the game and dominate,” Jones observed. “That’s how you should go up against any offensive line, no matter who it is.”
Whether West Virginia’s defenders thought they would repeat last week’s eight-sack performance, or whether they were suffering from a bit of an emotional hangover after losing that very winnable game against the Bears, Jones wouldn’t say directly. However, he did address West Virginia’s big early deficit, which may have had an effect on how the team competed. The Mountaineers fell behind 28-3 in the second quarter, putting the Red Raiders in easy command of the contest.
“As a defense, really offense, special teams, whatever, regardless you should go out and play ball and look at the scoreboard later on,” the veteran lineman said. “That’s how you should approach it. Regardless of the situation, you shouldn’t be looking at the points or the scoreboard. Play your heart out, leave it out there, and what happens, happens.”
Jones, who has been praised by both head coach Neal Brown and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning for his relentless effort and leadership, will have those traits tested even more heavily in the final three weeks of the regular season. With bowl chances on life support and the team mired in a five-game losing streak, motivation could be in short supply. It will be up to senior leaders like Jones to reinforce the “hang in there” message the coaching staff will be delivering.
“If you want to win, when you lose it shouldn’t feel good. If you invest time, watch film and practice, (losing) shouldn’t feel good,” he reiterated. “But you feel how you feel and then Monday it’s time to go to work. We just have to work harder. We have to go out there and apply what we are coached to apply. On Monday we have to go to work. That’s what I’m going to do.”