AUBURN — When the Tigers host No. 5 Georgia tonight in the latest meeting of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry, they'll have to deal with one of the country's best players in Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones.
Jones has 52 tackles, including 8.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss, an interception, five forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in just seven games this season.
"He's definitely a tackle-for-loss hazard, whether it be sacks or in the run game," coach Gene Chizik said of Jones. "They don't have any problems with pressuring him from wherever. You always have to know where he is, and then on top of that, he's just a very physical player. He's made plays against pretty much everybody they've played. You have to know where he is, and you have to have a way to account for him in both the run game and the pass game because he has great penetration from wherever he's coming from."
What makes Jones, a 2011 Butkus Award finalist and consensus All-American, even more threatening is his versatility. He can play either outside linebacker spot and drop into a three-point stance as a defensive end.
"They play him all over the place," offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said. "He's going to play on Sundays, for sure. He has the ability to rush the passer. He's got multiple moves on his pass rush, yet he can drop into coverage. He's a problem player."
Jones can absolutely wreak havoc on opposing offenses, as he did against Florida when he had 12 tackles including 4.5 for loss and three sacks. His 1.22 sacks per game ranks fifth nationally.
Earlier in the week, right guard Chad Slade provided some bulletin board material for Jones, saying "it's not that hard" to stop him.
"You've got to be able to get your hands on him, block him," Slade said. "He's a good player, but you can stop him. It's not that hard. You've just got to go out there and make the calls, go out there and execute the calls and know that he's probably going to be on the side where the tackle will be made. He's the type of player who will be one of the impact players."
Slade was largely complimentary of Jones, a junior, who is one of the top-rated players for next year's NFL Draft should he choose to forgo his senior season. Jones tweeted that he saw Slade's remarks.
Stopping him will be a tall task though and it will be up to Slade and the other members of the Auburn offensive line to give true freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace time to operate without Jones breaking up the play.
"He really knows how to get to the quarterback," Wallace said. "He's fast. He's strong. He's everything you look for in an outside linebacker. I think he really has the full package. We just have to go out there and play football, play as a team and let everything take care of itself. We can't just really focus in on one player. They have 10 other guys out there that are really good."