After his first career start for top-ranked Clemson in the Tigers’ 37-13 victory over Wake Forest, Mike Jones discovered a newfound appreciation for his love of the game.
The Nashville, Tenn., native, who ended the night with a career-high five tackles, said while he had a lot of nerves going into Saturday’s contest, getting to finally go out there and play with his teammates was a moment he will never forget.
“Man, I would say it was everything I thought it’d be,” Jones said. “You know, it all comes back to like it’s just football and I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been nervous all week. My momma and my parents told me they’ve been nervous, but I got out there and I was just like, ‘Wow, I’m just playing the game I love. Just being out there with your teammates, the atmosphere, and just being able to play the game right now you know with all of this stuff going on, it was great.
“I’ll never forget this day. Start or not, this was just a great day, a great game, a fun game and I had fun playing today.”
Jones wasn’t the only one who had fun Saturday. The entire Clemson defense had a very impressive showing, finishing off the night with a whopping six sacks and a pair of impressive performances from true freshmen Bryan Bresee and Myles Murphy, but Jones says this success came as no surprise to him.
“I mean, I’m not as impressed because I’ve seen them do it for a little while now, you know I’ve seen them in practice over and over both of them guys have put in the work, they’ve put in the time, and they are just doing what they do now,” Jones said. “Like I said, it’s just football out there, whether it’s high school or college football, it’s the same and seeing that translate over in the build of them.
“I wasn’t surprised. I knew they were going to come out there and ball today.”
The Tigers were able to keep Wake Forest out of the end zone until the end of the fourth quarter with 2:34 left in the game. Jones says while Saturday’s game ended in victory, there is still areas to improve on heading into next week.
“One thing we tried to emphasize was just really focusing on playing our gaps,” he said. “They run that slow zone, so it’s easy for guys to fit it up wrong or try to make other people’s plays. We all just focused on our jobs, did our jobs, and executed really well today and it worked out. Not many mistakes, of course we gotta play better and we gotta tighten up on some things, but for the most part, it went pretty smooth.”