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December 27, 2018

Dre'Mont Jones

Pasadena, California

Q. Dre'Mont, in the debrief after the season, after you finished Northwestern to now, have you all taken the time to study the season defensively, see where -- I don't know, have you?
DRE'MONT JONES: Honestly, no, not really. It's something you kind of do by yourself. You don't really get a chance to sit down and watch each and every game or just talk about it. You kind of do that on your own terms a little bit. But we're definitely aware of how we played and what the season went for us.

Q. As you think of it in your own terms, how do you (indiscernible)?
DRE'MONT JONES: Every year is positive when you can go, what, 12-1, something like that. The last game, we did have some hiccups in the middle and towards the end of it. But we found a way to win. We got the Big Ten championships. Not too much we can complain about.

Q. When you think about the big plays of the defense, susceptible throughout the year, was there any common theme, anything you looked at as saying that explains that?
DRE'MONT JONES: Yeah, I can agree. I mean, the big plays. I mean, they can get away from us. We have the game controlled and the next thing you know big play there, big play, and now the game looks even. When you take away those plays, there's not much they can really say.

You've got to look at the results. Most of the time, about 95 percent of the time we walked. So it's okay.

Q. So Dre'Mont, your first bowl trip was '15, right?

Q. Notre Dame Fiesta Bowl. I think every year we ask about the older players, what young guys are flashing in bowl practice. And your name was a name that came out a lot that year. What do you remember about that in bowl practice, how you felt and like what did that do for you as a young guy?
DRE'MONT JONES: I mean, it was like my first few weeks of playing football at all because I was out the whole year from ACL tear out of high school coming into college. I was so eager to get back, and I can make up the excuses that everybody had their legs, had fresh legs, so that's probably why I did good at that time. I remember that like it was yesterday. It was crazy.

Q. What does it do in terms of your confidence?
DRE'MONT JONES: Personally, it got me going a little bit. But it was nothing too major because it was bowl season and I'm just now coming back and everybody played throughout the year and their legs are probably sore and I'm just fresh, ready to go.

So I didn't think too much into it because I've got a lot more to grow.

Q. When you say you remember it like it was yesterday, are there plays you remember, or who you were going against in that bowl practice? What do you really remember about it?
DRE'MONT JONES: I remember going against Jamarco for the first, and I won and I did some like crazy move (indiscernible). That's the one play I do remember.

Q. Do you realize as a young guy, the coaches are watching that, right? Of course they're getting ready for the bowl, but they're also trying to see which young guys are showing something. Do you realize that as a young guy?
DRE'MONT JONES: I didn't realize that at first. No, you kind of just play, go with the flow and see that you can come out on top of one-on-ones or doing run fits. But now being older and seeing it and outside looking in, I can definitely see how the coaches really evaluate us.

Q. Now you think about your progression of your career, three years ago that was really the first time you got to flash like that, right, to where you are right now, is this what you thought? Did it go as you expected?
DRE'MONT JONES: I think it went better than I expected. Seemed like night and day from like playing my redshirt freshman year, having my 50-plus tackles, then last year a jump off, I feel like I started off hot, missed my legs a little bit, then kind of stayed solid. And this year I felt I came out of my shell a little more.

Q. People are looking for blessings in disguise, that kind of thing. Without the leg injury, would you have gone last year, do you think, or did that just all suck, it's all that?
DRE'MONT JONES: It's all that. You can't really do a "if then and that" type of deal, because, no, you have to live with the results. I came back, I'm happy I came back. So there's some positives out of that happening.

Q. When Nick was so big about you coming back, was there any part of you in any of this where it was like Nick was so excited for me to come back, and you only had two and a half games together to do your thing, and then he was gone, were you kind of like, what's going on? I came back, and now you're gone. Did that cross your mind?
DRE'MONT JONES: No, Nick and the team, I mean, Nick has the name and popularity behind him, but I was happy to come back and play with Coop and Chase and Javon and B.B. and the new freshmen coming in. It wasn't about just Nick.

Q. Can you tell us what happened with the leg last year, what was the deal?
DRE'MONT JONES: I know some of the guys was just like after practice just talks and just chilling, and then somebody do something, and we just mess around and just like chase each other but not seriously. I saw a -- I didn't see the locker was open, the drawer of the locker, and I ran into it. I didn't see it. I had a big gash on my leg. Needed 50 stitches in it. It was a crazy scar. It was like about this wide in my leg. So it was crazy.

Q. Do you still have the scar?
DRE'MONT JONES: I do have the scar, but I don't know if I can really --

Q. When that happened, were you like, oh, my God, what did I do? The coaches are going to kill me?
DRE'MONT JONES: Yeah, everything you just said was my thought, oh, I really messed up. I think we were playing Rutgers that week, too, so it was right after practice. I know we prepared heavily for Rutgers, I was ready, and I had stitches that day, that night because it was bleeding like crazy, and then realized I couldn't play for two weeks. It was very upsetting because I felt I was on the right path. But love the results, like I said.

Q. What was the first conversation after that with either Coach J. or Coach Schiano or Meyer?
DRE'MONT JONES: At the time I didn't know how serious it was, because I saw my veins and a little bit of my bone, the fat was hanging out of my leg. It was a deep cut. But it's so crazy because I didn't tear anything, didn't hurt anything. I have all feeling in my leg. I feel fine. I feel like nothing happened at all.

Q. Really? There wasn't blood all over the locker room?
DRE'MONT JONES: Yeah, it was just blood on my leg, just everywhere.

Q. And it was the left leg?

Q. I know you talked about the year you've had and it feels like you did what you wanted to do this year. What is it that you want to improve the most, was it pass rush, was it run defense, was it technique, understanding the game? What did you want to get after?
DRE'MONT JONES: Just kind of all aspects. But I think heavily it was the run and pass game. Because I wanted to do more than just somebody say I can pass rush, and improve the pass rush with results. And with the run game, I felt like I was more stagnant this year in the run game than before.

Q. This is a decision that a lot of guys like you have to deal with in a bowl. I know you said -- you're here, you're playing. Can you take us through the decision, because Denzel made a decision last year. A lot of guys around the country made the decision. It seems absolutely a legitimate decision for anybody with first-round talent that you have to at least consider. What was the thought process like for you, because certainly there's a lot of factors that go into it, right?
DRE'MONT JONES: I have my pros and my cons, of course, me not playing a high chance of getting hurt for the next level, but I thought to myself: I can't do what everybody else wants me to do. I know a lot of people in my family and corner didn't want me to play in this game. I feel like I'm a person who loves football and love playing the game, and love playing with this group of guys.

I couldn't just let myself sit there and just watch. I wanted to play and finish what we started. We had a goal. I feel like if I was in the playoffs, I'd be playing, so why not play in the Rose Bowl.

Q. Can you see the other side, like when --
DRE'MONT JONES: Yeah, I'm definitely not knocking anybody, because I definitely fully understand why you wouldn't want to play in this game. There's not much like end goal. It's not like you're going to the National Championship after this. It's like you play in a Rose Bowl, which is a great bowl to play in, but I do think of that myself, but playing in this game (indiscernible) I can still show more.

Q. What is there do you think you need to show to get to that next level? Do you have anything to show?
DRE'MONT JONES: Nothing specific. I think each game you have on film is another chance to show -- especially against a good team, they're a good team and you play against another good team and you play well, you can show your abilities.

Q. We've asked you practically nothing about Washington. I think you're playing -- we haven't even talked about it. What do you talk about when you guys talk about this game? What really jumps out to you? What's of interest to you when you look at Washington?
DRE'MONT JONES: I see a team that really relies on their running backs to get them going. I see No. 9, he's really I guess the kick starter for their team, seems like, my point of view, and he's really talented. Especially the rest of the backs, I think 25, 25 or 26, too, they're also really good. And especially the quarterback. Their "O" line they seem to work really good together. I think the player that sticks out to me is the center. Seems like he's the key guy for that "O" line.

Q. Two years ago Washington and Ohio State were the two teams that lost the playoff semifinals, and neither of you guys were particularly close in either game. Just when you are a team and here we are, Washington and Ohio State are both great programs, you're back in a great bowl. What was that like in '16 when you go to the playoff, that's a great accomplishment, you're in the final four, but you don't play very well, it's not a close game? Was that hard to get over? How did this program deal with that? And do you view in the end like that's a positive: Hey, we made a playoff? Or was it more, oh, man, we didn't play as well?
DRE'MONT JONES: We didn't show up to play at all. We couldn't move the ball. Defense, we got worn down, and it just sucks.

Can't really take that as a positive because we lost so bad. And you kind of just find ways to recover. I mean, you kind of change your practice regimen a little bit. Maybe we blitzed too hard. Maybe we didn't go hard enough. You kind of find the ways to balance out what you did so you don't have a 31-0 loss again.

Q. When you do that, again, does it help you realize the standard of how good you have to be to win a National -- this program did it not many years ago, but how good you have to be in a given year to win a National Championship?
DRE'MONT JONES: You realize that the margin of error is very slim as you get deep into the role. Around that time we had crazy games, a lot of tough teams, and we always kept it close. But the margin of error is bigger. And playing against Clemson, the margin of error is so small you get turnovers after turnover, get turnover on downs, we can't really let that slide against a team like that at that time.

Q. I was asking you about your bowl prep. Who are the young guys who flashed in your mind this year?
DRE'MONT JONES: I feel like Bill Smith was alive and you hear Tommy Tyreek and Teradja. And the main guys you don't hear, I would say Nick (indiscernible).

Q. Those young defensive linemen, do you feel good about the defensive line when you're gone?

Q. Those guys established themselves?

Q. What's your take on Coach Schiano, what he's brought to the table? Has he kind of found a home here? What do you think he'll do now?
DRE'MONT JONES: Whatever he wants. I know he's been going through some coaching things that don't involve me. So hopefully he stays. Hopefully he doesn't. It's kind of -- what I'm saying is whatever he does I'm okay with.

Q. Did you learn anything from him in particular about your tenure?
DRE'MONT JONES: Can't think of anything right now.

Q. How important was it to you -- you've been asked to go into the NFL, but to play in this game, why is it important for you to play in this game?
DRE'MONT JONES: Just to finish what we started as a team, nothing more beyond that. Personally maybe get some more stuff on film.

Q. A lot of people look at this, you remembered what happened to Jaylon Smith against that Fiesta Bowl, things like that, do you take that into consideration, the jeopardy you face?
DRE'MONT JONES: Yeah, because it's there. You can play in this game, you get hurt. I mean, almost get hurt every play, because -- to go through. But I see it. I mean, I see the negatives of the plan, but I see the pros, and I felt the pros outweigh the negatives a little bit.

Q. The pros, one last shot with your teammates, the Rose Bowl?
DRE'MONT JONES: Playing in the Rose Bowl, watching my teammates get better on film, more positive things. The chance of positive things, playing against a really good team. The con is the injury. But I can get hurt doing anything.

Q. What's it like, you're going to play in the Rose Bowl? You've probably heard the legends from years gone by. It used to be a common occurrence for Ohio State a long time ago and stuff?
DRE'MONT JONES: The opportunity to put some legacy in this program, really. We'll get a 13th game, and that's pretty much it on the legacy side. Besides all the great players that played before us.

Q. When you made the decision to play this game, did you consult with anyone about how it would be potentially viewed had you decided not to play, possible, any negative that could be?
DRE'MONT JONES: Yeah, I did. I talked to my inner circle and asked them how it would be. I know they all wanted me to opt out and not play. But this is my decision. So I chose to play.

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