The independent news organization of Duke University

Versatile Jones steps in after Lewis' injury

During the week leading up to last Saturday's Virginia Tech game, sophomore Marcus Jones-who had been benched in favor of freshman quarterback Thaddeus Lewis after week one-approached head coach Ted Roof.

"He came to me and said, "I understand Thads beat me out, I just want to do whatever I can to help the team,'" Roof said Saturday. "I was really proud of him.... That kind of unselfish, that kind of buy-in, is going to pay off somewhere."

Jones, who played primarily wide receiver as a freshman but moved full-time to quarterback in the offseason and took over the starting job when Zack Asack was suspended over the summer, asked Roof if he could get back on the field at wideout. Roof consented, and Jones began the game Saturday ready to catch passes, not throw them.

But on Duke's first offensive play of the game, Lewis was sacked, and Jones was pressed into action at quarterback. Because he had been prepared to line up at wideout, Jones was wearing a different set of protective equipment, with bigger shoulder pads and no rib protector. When Lewis quickly headed for the sidelines, Jones did not have time to trade his pads in, and he handed the ball off twice before Lewis returned to the field.

Later in the first quarter, Hokie rover Aaron Rouse nailed Lewis with a helmet-to-helmet hit well after Lewis had released a six-yard toss to tight end Nick Stefanow. The freshman remained down on the ground for several minutes and was unable to return to the game because of a concussion.

This time around, Jones changed into a backup set of pads that had been set aside on Duke's bench, though the second jersey he wore for most of the first half did not have his last name stitched on it.

While Lewis was being helped off the field, Roof entered the offensive huddle.

"He told everybody to get ready and get behind me, and let's keep moving," Jones said.

Although Duke's offense could not put the ball in the end zone behind Jones, it did show signs of life under his leadership. The sophomore threw for 71 yards and completed six of his eight passing attempts against a Virginia Tech defense that was constantly pressuring Duke's young offensive line.

Jones threw for the Blue Devils' longest offensive play of the day when he connected with wide receiver Eron Riley late in the third quarter for a 38-yard gain. One play after that, following a run that went for a loss of one yard, Jones fumbled the snap from center Matt Rumsey but was able to pick the ball up and complete a pass to tailback Justin Boyle for a gain of six yards.

"He's one of our best athletes," Roof said. "Like any coach, you want to put your best athletes on the field."

For Jones, the loss to Virginia Tech hurt, both physically and mentally. But it provided an opportunity he missed out on in the second half against Richmond and completely against Wake Forest-being on the playing field for an extended period of time.

"I was looking forward to a big game at wide receiver," Jones said. "I was going to get some looks. But since the circumstances occurred, I had to go back to quarterback, which was fine. It was great to go play for really the first true time, getting quite a bit of experience."

Discussion

Share and discuss “Versatile Jones steps in after Lewis' injury” on social media.