national champs baby
Tim and Brian, I think we can finally put this name issue to rest. His name is Conelius (no "r"). It's that way under his profile in the Spartan High program and the home announcer (who has no southern accent) says Conelius. I think that's as good as we're going to get until he signs a LOI or someone actually asks him. I'll be glad to scan and send his profile to either (or both) of you, if you aren't willing to just take my word for it, if you can get me your email address. I'd post it as an attachment/image here, but I don't have a scanner at home and I wanted to get this update posted. Also, MGoObes, you owe me an apology for what you said during my week one Jones update. It's not just because I live in the south that I hear Conelius; it's because it's his friggin' name. Just because I live in the south doesn't mean we are all hillbilly's who talk with the stereotypical southern drawl. What you said was just ignorant.
A comment about last week's game:
Sorry, I missed it. I was up north for the holiday weekend. They won. Tim posted some comments on it with links to local news stories here: http://mgoblog.com/content/friday-night-lights-2009-9-8#comments.
Bad officiating and bad coaching equals handing a victory to the jaws of defeat. Spartan High should have won this game. It was 7-7 at the half and Spartanburg actually lead 14-7 through the third quarter. Then it went all down hill from there. Two horribly blown calls lead to two Sumter scores as the defense seemed to totally lose focus and that was pretty much all she wrote, despite a pretty good night from Conelius Jones. The bad coaching comes in from allowing the lack of discipline to occur, but also some extremely questionable play-calling. Someone needs to really tell this coach what is blatantly obvious: Conelius Jones is a much better passer than the play-calling gives him credit for. Designed runs on second and third and long completely disrespects this kid's ability. Oh yeah, the game... Sumter 34, Spartanburg 21. The end.
Conelius Jones continues to impress me with his arm, decision-making, and excellent play-action skills. As I've said consistently now, Jones is not all that fast (he's not slow, but he's more quick and shifty than fast), but what has become obvious is that this kid really has the potential to develop as a passer. He shows good presence in the pocket and makes good decisions with where to go with the ball (usually). However, he does tend to bail out and run sooner than he should sometimes, which indicates that he's not processing multiple reads consistently. I'm pretty sure this is normal for quarterbacks who are known to be more mobile, at least at this point in their career. His arm strength continues to impress as does his accuracy. His two interceptions weren't indicative of accuracy issues. The first one was a good play by the corner on a slightly under thrown ball and the second one appeared to be a case where he just didn't see the defender. Interestingly, both picks came at the goal line. The first one was at a rather key time (it would have tied the game at 28 in the 4th quarter, but the second one really wasn't (it was 34-21 Sumter with about 30 seconds left in the game). These were his first two interceptions of the season, so I'm not really thinking there's much to take away from it other than interceptions happen sometimes. He also seemed to hold onto the ball a little two long even when he hung in the pocket (as evidenced by his 3 sacks). I'll keep this on the list to re-evaluate in future games. Overall, Jones was very effective through the air and put up his highest passing yard total of the season. In fact, he's increased his yardage each week this season. He was also effective on the ground putting up his highest rushing yardage total of the season. My favorite Jones play of the game also happened to come on the ground when on 4th and 7 in the 4th quarter he absolutely trucked a Sumter defender at the sticks to get the first down to keep a drive alive that resulted in a touchdown with about 4 minutes left to cut the deficit to 7 points. Unfortunately the defense couldn't stop Sumter on their next possession (see aforementioned defensive meltdown), so it was ultimately for naught. Jones put up about 70 yards on the ground (72 by my count, but I'll wait until the official numbers tomorrow) which is pretty impressive considering that Sumter played almost the entire first quarter with all eleven guys within 8 yards of the line of scrimmage. This changed when Jones torched them through the air on their third possession (5 for 5, 53 yards, TD (19 yards)). It was obvious that they decided to dare Jones to pass. He did. They paid for it. After that they played it much more traditionally. The one thing that I can say is that Jones isn't putting up his passing numbers by big plays. Rather, he's been very effective at making good decisions and finding receivers on underneath or quick routes and putting the ball in the right place at the right time. All-in-all a good personal performance by Jones, but unfortunately it was not a total team effort tonight.
(1) Started at own 29 / punt / rush: 4 (15 yards)
(2) Started at own 35 / punt / pass: 0-1
(3) Started at own 32 / TD / rush: 4 (4 yards) / pass: 5/5 (53 yards), TD (19 yards)
(4) Started at own 34 / punt / pass: 1/2 (14 yards)
(5) Started at own 47 / punt / pass: 0/1 / sack: 2 (-13 yards)
(6) Started at own 31 / punt / rush: 3 (15 yards) / pass: 2/2 (5 yards)
(7) Started at own 28 / punt / rush: 3 (22 yards)
(8) Started at own 31 / INT / rush: 2 (-6 yards) / pass: 2/3 (52 yards), INT
(9) Started at own 35 / TD / rush: 3 (16 yards), TD / pass: 5/8 (41 yards)
(10) Started at own 48 / INT / rush: 1 (12 yards / pass: 2/5 (22 yards), INT / sack: 1 (-2 yards)
Passing: 17/27, 187 yards, TD, 2 INT
Rushing: 20 carries, 72 yards, TD
Sacks: 3, -15 yards
Note - obviously these are not official stats, but should be in the ballpark
The following are the comments that I wrote down throughout the game:
- Name is Conelius in the program and as pronounced by the PA announcer
- Lofted two short passes - kind of scary
- Bootleg with nice touch and accuracy under pressure
- 11 in box - dare to pass
- Nice accuracy on 17 yard TD pass / nice loft
- Excellent play action fakes (this will be key for running Michigan's offense)
- Nice placement on pass to flat to running back
- Took big hit on run and sprung right back up quickly
- DB undercut ball on INT at goal line
- More athletic and shifty than fast
- Long on deep flag
- 7 yard 4th down fist down - trucked defender for first down
- Really seems to make good decisions despite terrible play-calling
Questions asked last time:
David - What were your impressions on his running ability? Can he be effective carrying the ball 15+ times a game?
Shouldn't be a problem. He carried 20 times tonight and showed very little fatigue (i.e. just as effective later in the game). Took some big hits, but took them well. Even gave a couple good shots to would be defenders. He's not a small guy.
MGoObes - a solution for the name thing. his nickname is trill, perhaps we can use that in quotation marks until the home opener? just throwing that out there
Unable to verify the nickname, but his real name has been verified.
Spartan High hosts Greenwood High. I should be there, but we also close on our house that day, so there's an outside chance that I won't be there. Greenwood is 2-1 after getting thumped by Dorman tonight 35-14. Greenwood is regarded as a tough opponent, so it should be a good test.
Again, as always, if anyone has any questions I will obviously be glad to try to answer them to the best of my ability. Also, if anyone has anything they would like for me to evaluate in the coming weeks please let me know and I will add them to my list.
What a difference one week makes. It was hard to believe this was actually the same player, and the same Spartan High team for that matter. Class 4A Spartan High absolutely dominated traditionally strong Class 3A Union High in Union's home opener. The Vikings scored touchdowns on five of their nine possessions en route to a 35-0 trashing of the Yellow Jackets. The Vikings improved to 1-1 on the season and the Yellow Jackets fell to 0-2.
One problem with evaluating players on a week-by-week basis is that (1) they improve each week and (2) it's hard to gauge the quality of the competition, especially early on. Some took my review last week as "grim", but while his performance was really nothing short of awful, it was just one game. One game that it turns out was against a very high quality opponent. Just a point that I wanted to make mention of and that everyone needs to keep in mind in reading this. Until I have more of a body of evidence to work with these should be taken as an evolving body of evaluative work. Now onto the fun...
The start of this game induced several minutes of WTF is going on here? Jones did not start at QB. Instead, sophomore Adrian(?) Kinnock got the starting nod. Obvious first thoughts were that there was an injury or some type of trouble, but Jones was back in for the second possession and for the rest of the half. This repeated in the second half (i.e. Kinnock started, followed by Jones) so this should NOT be taken as an indication of any type of a problem for Jones. In hindsight I am certain that it had everything to do with the quality of the opponent and a desire by the coaching staff to get Kinnock some meaningful playing time with the first team. From an evaluative perspective it was actually quite helpful though as it gave a nice perspective of the two quarterbacks running the same offense against Union's first defense. It was a night and day difference between Jones and Kinnock in every single facet, all significantly in Jones' favor.
It really was a night and day difference between this week and last. Jones was almost completely flawless tonight in every facet of the game. He passed for a beautiful 50 yard TD pass on a lights out play fake on a 4th and 4 and ran for 3 short touchdowns (3 yards, 1 yard, and 3 yards). The fact that the touchdowns were short doesn't mean that they weren't impressive. One of the 3 yard touchdown runs was a beautiful play fake that left everyone in the stadium, including the Union defenders, having no idea who had the ball. The most stunning part of his game was his absolute mastery on play fakes on both play action passes and play fakes to set up boot legs or quarterback draws. He had at least two runs of 20+ yards. Overall he was utilized much more effectively this week and he, as well as the rest of his teammates, executed much better this week. My suspicion is that the Dorman High team they played last week will turn out to be far better than most people expected at the beginning of the season (and they were expected to be pretty good) and that contributed to the somewhat dower performance last week. If there was one thing that really stood out in my mind tonight it was without a doubt Jones' ability to absolutely baffle the defense and a good portion of the crowd on the play fakes. It really was a sight to behold. He's definitely not the fastest guy in the world, as I mentioned last week, but he certainly is fast and his speed showed through much more this week. While not exceptionally fast by any stretch, he is slippery to tackle and shows the ability to escape trouble with his athleticism and strength. On one play in particular he broke a sure sack by backpeddling out of it and proceeded to throw an absolute strike for a first down. His long passes were much more accurate this week and continued to exhibit good velocity. My suspicion is that this entire team played very tight last week and it showed all around. The real test on that front will be when Spartan High and Dorman High face off again in the final game of the regular season (it's weird, they play twice each year). Until then it will continue to be a week-by-week evaluation with little ability to evaluate the strength of the oppenent until more games are played. All in all this was a drastic improvement over last week for Jones (in case that wasn't already obvious), and I can certainly see now why he caught Michigan's interest. He continues to be a much better passer than I expected.
(1) Jones out / started at Union 40 / TD
(2) Jones in / started at own 42 / TD / pass: 1-1 (5 yds) / rush: 2 (4 yds), TD (3 yds)
(3) Jones in / started at own 30 / TD / pass: 3-3 (58 yds), TD (50 yds) / rush: 1 (19 yds) / sack: 1 (-8 yds)
(4) Jones in / started at 50 / TD / pass: 2-2 (19 yds) / rush: 2 (8 yds), TD (1 yd)
(5) Jones out / started at own 45 / punt / pass: 2-3 (25 yds) / sack: 1 (-10 yds)
(6) Jones in / started at Union 3 / TD / rush: 1 (3 yds), TD (3 yds)
(7) Jones in / started at Union 49 / downs / pass: 0-1
(8) Jones in / started at own 43 / missed FG / rush: 2 (37 yds) / Jones left drive after 20 yd run with bruised hand and drive faltered
(9) Jones out / started at own 20 / punt
Passing: 5-7, 107 yards, TD
Rushing: 8 carries, 71 yards, 3 TD
Sack: 1, -8 yards
The following are the comments that I wrote down throughout the game:
- Tight spiral with good velocity
- Good action on play-action-pass
- Good touch and accuracy on pass across body to flat
- Game program listed his name as "Cornelius" (final determination to be made at home opener)
- Good ball fake tucked into 19 yard run with quick cutback
- Awesome play-action on 50 yard touchdown pass on 4th down
- Hides ball extremely well on play-action
- Tight accurate spiral on long balls; excellent trajectory
- Appeared comfortable out of shotgun and from under center
- Quick feet on drop backs from under center and out of shot gun
- Broke a sack with his back peddle and threw an absolute strike for an 8 yard gain to the 1 yard line
- Obvious polish difference between Jones and Kinnock (substantially in Jones' favor, as would be expected between a senior and a sophomore)
- Just awesome deception on play-action bootleg TD run left defenders completely baffled on who had the ball
- High ball on 4th down incompletion, but coverage was underneath not over the top
- Commands respect on play-action that opens huge holes for his backs
Spartan High travels to Northwestern High near Rock Hill, SC (just south of Charlotte, NC) on 9/4. I will not be in attendance as I will be up north for Labor Day and the start of the college season. My next report will come after Spartan High's home opener against Sumter High on 9/11.
If anyone has any questions I will obviously be glad to try to answer them to the best of my ability. Also, if anyone has anything they would like for me to evaluate in the coming weeks please let me know and I will add them to my list.
Was able to catch essentially three quarters of the Jones' game tonight (the other couple we went with, who drove, wanted to leave just into the 4th, so I didn't have much choice). I intended to keep stats, but this was the first football game that I've ever been to where they didn't sell programs (at least on the visiting side) so I didn't have anything to write on. Sorry, I'll be better prepared next week. Now for some points of review:
- First things first: Spartanburg High was incredibly out coached in this game, so everything that follows (and probably all season) should be viewed through the lens of terrible play calling and utilization of available talent. They continually tried to run the ball up the middle when it was apparent to everyone in the stadium that doing so was futile.
- Second, Jones' receivers have hands of stone. Also needs to be kept in mind when reviewing Jones' stats, probably for the rest of the season. I would pretty safely predict that Jones will have terrible stats this season that are not entirely (or at all) reflective of his abilities.
- Third, tonight's game was against Dorman High who was the only team to beat Byrnes last year (ranked preseason #2 nationally) and looked pretty solid again this year. Dorman is also approximately twice as big as Spartan High (Dorman has about 3,200 students in grades 10-12 and Spartan High has about 1,800 students in grades 10-12).
- Running - Jones is not nearly as fast as I expected him to be. I can't seem to find a 40 time on any of the recruiting sites, but if I had to guess I would say he's probably 4.5 at best, and that's probably generous. He did seem to be able to cut fairly well and did make good reads on the cut backs. It was difficult to tell if his inability to make plays with his legs was because he wasn't as fast as anticipated or because the defenders were faster than anticipated (remember, he was playing a pretty darn good team). It's not that he's slow, just not as fast as I thought he would be. He's probably the fastest player that Spartan High had on offense, but my guess is that Dorman High's offense had at least 4 players on the field on every play who were faster. This is a point that I will be certain to reevaluate next week.
- Passing - Jones is a pretty accurate passer in the short passing game (less than 15 yards), but struggled with accuracy beyond that. He had average velocity on his long balls and was probably a little too forceful with the short passes. He had at least a half dozen passes in the 0 to 15 yard range that were right on the money and just flat out dropped, mainly all by the same receiver and in critical situations. He really seemed to struggle throwing the ball down field. He was either long or floated the ball on virtually every pass over 15 yards. That said, on the balls that he was long on he had good velocity. He was more accurate on the run than when in the pocket on both the long and short passes. He seemed to make good reads, although the play calling didn't afford many options. I have no idea why, but most of their plays started from a single back, double tight end formation and typically either both tight ends would stay in and block with the back releasing or one tight end would release and the back would stay. Either way, the most options he ever had on any given pass play were three receiving options. He seemed to process the reads well and quickly, especially on short routes and was effective at placing the ball at places where only his receiver could catch it. When routes were covered he appeared to make good decisions to bail out and run, but again he wasn't nearly as fast as I anticipated so this mitigated the effectiveness in such situations. I don't know the final stats for sure, but I would be surprised if he rushed for more than 20 yards tonight.
- With all of this, definitely remember that all of these observations are just off of one game that is the first game of the season and was against a very formidable opponent. Altogether I would assess, at least in week one, that Jones is a more effective passer than runner, although his passing skills are very raw. With proper coaching I don't have any doubt that Jones could develop into an effective passer, but he certainly is not there yet. It is also worth keeping in mind, as I said before, when reports on Jones come in through the season in the media, remember that it does not appear that the coaching staff are particularly effective at calling plays or making in game adjustments and that he doesn't have what appear to be particularly skilled receivers to through to. Just my two cents for this week. I'll report back after every game that we attend, which should be all but one or two.
For those who are wondering, the reason why the thread was titled this way is that there is a dispute over the spelling of his first name (i.e. whether it is Cornelius or Conelius). I intended to obtain a program to settle the matter, but as I said previously they didn't have any programs. The PA announcer said Cornelius, but again it was an away game, so I wouldn't take that as evidence either way.
Also, I realize that this is a double post. I should have posted it as a diary to begin with, but I messed up. I will be sure to get it right in the future. In other words, I'm sorry, so please refrain from the snarky comments.