OXFORD, Miss. – In the second quarter of last week’s Ole Miss win over Southeastern Louisiana, the Rebels’ Spencer Cole lofted a kickoff that SLU’s Juwan Petit-Frere gathered in at his own five. He made his way to the Lions’ 16 when suddenly the number 5 on the back of the returner’s jersey was flat on the ground and the ball had been jarred loose.
“There is rarely any warning,” according to the website.
“The surfer or swimmer is paddling along with no idea what is about to happen. Sometimes their first indication that something is wrong is a look of terror in the eyes of a nearby friend. More often, the first sign is a sudden, massive impact as the oncoming shark propels itself into the victim.”
That is a good description, but the man who delivered the blow, Ole Miss linebacker Jacquez Jones, had a simpler explanation.
“My coach got on me saying I needed to go down and cover this kick,” Jones said.
“I saw the field open up and I just took my shot. That’s my job, to hit people.”
Ole Miss linebacker Jacquez Jones
Job well done, young man.
Jones’ performance did not escape the attention of the Rebels’ head coach.
“You saw that kickoff coverage,” coach Matt Luke said of Jones’ play. “That was the biggest hit we’ve had in a while. He separates the guy from the ball. It was a textbook tackle.”
Better look at that kit on the kickoff… Jacquez Jones my goodness pic.twitter.com/ByyDHoOoZY
— Nick Niehaus (@nickniehausWAPT) September 14, 2019
Tackling has been a specialty for the sophomore linebacker. After three games, Jones is tied for the lead on the Landshark defense with 16 total tackles. Three of those stops were for loss and he has also forced a team-high two fumbles.
But that is all in a day’s work for the Tuscaloosa, Ala., native who was named to the Freshman All-SEC team last season.
“As a linebacker, you have to be hungry. You have to want to hit people. You have to want to play the run and you have to take shots.“
Hungry like a shark.
The entire Landshark Defense has been in a feeding frenzy. The unit has only surrendered an average of 20 points per game and has been very stingy in its rushing defense–holding Arkansas and Southeastern to 66 and 61 yards, respectively, on the ground. That is due to a swarming Rebels’ defense.
Jacquez got the start Saturday against Southeastern in place of injured junior linebacker MoMo Sanogo and has drawn the praise of Ole Miss defensive coordinator, Mike MacIntyre, especially after the win last week.
“Jacquez has stepped in from the Arkansas game and this game and played really well,” MacIntyre said.
“He had some big-time hits. I thought with Jacquez he had a physical presence. I felt like he was in the right situation and read everything well. I thought Jacquez played really well,” MacIntyre added.
That kind of play will be needed this week as No. 23 Cal comes to Oxford. The Bears are 3-0 and looking to position themselves for a division title in the Pac-12.
“They’re a physical, physical football team,” Luke said of Cal. “You’re going to walk in here and see a physical football team. And, you know, they have done well at Cal the last two years on defense. And offensively they take care of the ball. They’re a good football team.”
The Rebels had better be ready for the 11 a.m., kickoff.
If the past three weeks are any indication, Jones and the Landsharks will be.