Jones Believes In Final WVU Push For 2019
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Don’t count WVU senior defensive end Reuben Jones among those who think the remainder of the 2019 football season should be dedicated to building for the future.
While the Michigan transfer believes that better days are ahead for his teammates of one season, he isn’t ready to bring down the curtain on this year.
“I definitely think our team is good enough to get to a bowl game. I believe we were good enough to beat Baylor last week,” Jones said with equal parts determination and conviction. “We have four games left, and we only have to win three to get to a bowl game. We are capable.”
Seniors, while supporting the idea of helping lay the groundwork for the future, want that last taste of success. Jones knows they can’t do it alone, however, and points out the importance of leadership in spreading that message.
“Whether guys decide that we are about to win out and be the team that we need to be to end the season the right way, it’s on the team to do that,” Jones assessed. “All I can do as an older guy is say, ‘Look, we have four games left. How are we going to finish this year? Are we going to finish bad, or are we going to come out, get good at practice, and come into games with the attitude that we aren’t going to lose any more?'”
Getting 100 percent buy-in on that idea might be difficult, as there are a number of different personalities and viewpoints in any large group, but again, Jones believes the majority of his teammates see the value in playing for the here and now as well as for the future.
“Guys definitely buy in to that,” he said. “We are young at a lot of spots, but young guys want to win too. I think you stay on top of them. I’m seasoned, I’ve been here for a minute, and sometimes the young guys might not understand that football goes like that. This is going to be my last college runs. I am telling guys that. Take advantage of it and play hard.”
Jones’ words are underscored by his enthusiastic approach to the game, and nowhere was that more on display than after West Virginia’s goal line stand against Baylor last Thursday. Coming off the field after stuffing the Bears on the doorstep of the Mountaineer end zone, Jones let out a couple of primal screams.
“I feel like as a defense that is what you are supposed to do,” Jones said of the sequence, and of his reaction to it. “We definitely have the talent and are prepared to do things like that. I got really excited. We stopped them four times in a row. I believed in our defense there. I was saying it as we went out there: ‘We can stop these guys. They are not going to score.'”
The line, like every unit on that side of the ball, has been hit by injuries this year, and has had to retool on an almost continuous basis. Yet, the line has acquitted itself well all year, wth only a pair of sour halves against Missouri and Oklahoma marring an otherwise productive season.
“Most of that just comes from the tenacity we have,” said Jones, who arrived at WVU this summer as a graduate transfer after spending the previous four years at Michigan. “Coach Lesley talks to us about continuing to play at a high level. Throughout the game, he told us ‘Play better. You are playing good, but play better.’ That pushes us to strive and go harder. We know who we are, and we know we need to be the leaders on defense to start it rolling and keep things going.”