IU football: Q&A with safeties coach Jason Jones

New IU football safeties coach Jason Jones joined the program in January.

Jones coached the cornerbacks at Florida Atlantic for this past season. FAU led the nation with 22 interceptions in 2019.

Prior to FAU, Jones was the co-defensive coordinator at Ole Miss. Indiana head coach Tom Allen and Jones were both defensive coaches at the same time in Oxford from 2012-14 where they both worked under Dave Wommack, father of current IU defensive coordinator Kane Wommack. Jones was with the Rebel program from 2012 to 2017.

Jones played defensive back for Alabama from 1995-99, and he started his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Crimson Tide. He also has made coaching stops at Oklahoma State, Rice and Tulsa.

Below is a Q&A with Jones from earlier this week

(Transcript via iuhoosiers.com)

Q: On how you are trying to get to know the kids…
JONES: When I first got here, one of the things that I did, I brought each guy in and set up an individual meeting with these guys. We sat down and tried to get to know them as a person just outside of football. Even though we only had four practices, I was still able to spend one-on-one time with them. Once I went through the whole group, then we had a second meeting where we just sat down and just talked. I’ve had several occasions while everyone was in town to sit down and meet with them and we were constantly talking to them every day on the phone and things like that. Still building those relationships.

Q: On your thoughts about your guys after those four practices…
JONES: I’m pleased with the guys I have in the room. I think the staff has done a good job of just recruiting and bringing in the right guys we need to run this system. Those four days it was a short spring but I did get to see an athletic group of guys. The biggest thing that I’m stressing with them is to just be the quarterback. The safeties in this defense, those are the guys that make the checks and get everybody lined up and just talking to Coach Shelby earlier, it’s their job to communicate to the corners, huskies and things like that to make sure everybody’s on the same page. What I’m trying to get those guys to be is just be the quarterback and be more vocal. Some guys are more vocal than others. Just like Devon (Matthews). He’s not a vocal leader. He’s one of those guys that sort of leads by example. I’m trying to get him to come out of his shell. Everyone, they look up to him, but I’m trying to get him to be that more vocal guy and to be the leader of the group and things like that and to make more plays. We had opportunities to make more plays in those four practices. We had opportunities to make plays. We got to take advantage of the opportunity when we have it, when we have a chance to make those plays.

Q: On the diversity of the defense with guys switching and playing different positions…
JONES: I think it actually helps them because when like Jamar (Johnson), Jamar was a husky for us, the husky. The husky most of the time plays aligned to the field. He’s always working with the field corner and the rover and we moved him to free safety, so now he’s on the other side of the defense. He’s working with the sting linebacker and the boundary corner and things like that. I think it expands his football IQ and it helps him to understand the defense as a whole. Now, still some learning to be done because it’s a new position, but I think it’s going to be really good for him down the road. That’s because it’s going to help him get a better understanding of the defense. When you understand the defense, you know there’s times when I can be aggressive. I can take a chance. I can jump this route or right now I’m in man-to-man, we’re blitzing, I can’t be as aggressive. I have to make sure that if I drive on this route, I have to be 100 percent that it’s going to be a pass breakup or an interception or I’m going to tackle this guy because if I miss the tackle, it could be a touchdown. I think that’s going to help him. You know Raheem (Layne), safety, he’s smart. In this defense, our corners, we ask them to play a lot of press man. It’s tough. They have a tough job because every snap is playing press man and you are just racing that guy outside. Moving him back to safety where he’s now more involved in the scheme and the courage aspect in making checks, he’s picked up on it really well. He’s put his time in. Even before we all left campus, he was swinging by my office and we would meet and watch tape and things like that. I’m pleased with both of those guys. Still have some work to do, but I think it’s going to be really good for the team down the road.

Q: On how have you been working with Brandon Shelby and Kasey Teegardin…
JONES: It’s been really good. Being a new guy coming in, you’re trying to get a feel for the guys in your room and also the guys that are players in the secondary. What’s their strengths and what’s their weaknesses and things like that. Brandon and Kasey, they’ve been great. They, for the most part, have just welcomed me with open arms. I can pick up the phone and call either one of them. They’ll help me. I actually enjoy it. It’s like three guys functioning as one. In the back end, we’re the 4-2-5, so we have five DBs playing at the same time. I think what’s going to help us take that next step from being good to great is now we have more eyes on those guys. Now we can actually watch the little things. I think between the three of us, nobody has an ego, so if I see something that the husky did, I may let Kasey know. If Kasey sees something that the safety did, he’ll let me know. Vice versa with Shelby. It’s been good. It’s been really great.

Q: On previous working experience with Coach Allen…
JONES: Coach Allen and I, we actually met, it was in 2012. At the time I was at Oklahoma State and Coach Allen was at Ole Miss. We both recruited, we had the same area in Dallas, Texas. We were out watching a spring practice and we met each other. The next year the secondary job opened at Ole Miss. Coach Allen told Coach Freeze about me. I came in and interviewed and we ended up working together at Ole Miss. Enjoyed working with him. We recruited together. The Dallas area we tag-teamed on some guys. Worked really well and ended up getting some really good players for us at Ole Miss. Anyone who has worked with Coach Allen, the one thing that everybody says is that he hasn’t changed. The person that he was as a position coach is that same guy even though he is the head coach. He has more on his plate. He hasn’t changed. I think the thing that in recruiting that’s really helping us in recruiting with the parents and recruits when they get the chance to talk to him on the phone or we’ve been doing Zoom meetings with recruits and things like that. The thing that the parents and recruits fall in love with is that he’s a genuine guy. They know that he truly cares about their son and it’s more than just football. That’s why recruiting is taking off and we’re having the success that we’re having. That’s his thing. He’s not trying to be somebody that he’s not. He’s just Coach Allen. The recruits love it and the moms and dads love it. It’s been great.

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