Jones dynamic after the catch

Bob Wieneke


After he had done his on-field interview with NBC, after he climbed five metal steps to shake hands, pose with fans and sign autographs, and after he had handed the towel he wore at his waist to a fan, TJ Jones eventually made his way into the Notre Dame Stadium interview room.

And the first words out of Jones' mouth, to a Notre Dame official, were "It took me long enough.

Why those words? Be-cause after 39 games in an Irish uniform, the senior wide receiver had his first 100-yard receiving day in Saturday's 28-6 disposal of Temple.

"It was just a good feeling to finally break it," the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Jones said of the 100-yard barrier, which he blew past with a six-catch, 138-yard afternoon. "I knew I got close and it was kind of a burden over my head, some-thing that you want to break as a receiver."

Jones' big day helped the 14th-ranked Irish break Tem-ple Saturday in the season opener for both teams. And in the process, Jones caught the eye of fourth-year head coach Brian Kelly.

"I thought it was dynamic," Kelly said of the senior cap-tain's day. "Dynamic is a word that I would use as a receiver when we're talking about after the catch. So he caught the football, and then he was dynamic after the catch. And that's what we were looking for from him."

Finding glitches in Jones' day would be a quicker task than chronicling all Jones did well.

He was the cause of a sub-stitution infraction prior to ND's first offensive snap, but that was the result of bad luck rather than a lack of concen-tration.

A piece of Jones' helmet had come undone and Jones was away from the offense as it was preparing to take the field. In the meantime, Jones was told that his personnel grouping was going to run the first play.

"It wasn't. So then I ran off and we got the penalty," Jones said, although the of-fense wasn't in too big of a hole as it scored in three plays to take a lead it would not relinquish.

The other glitch? Jones, who won the job as ND's punt returner, at times had trouble with his footing.

"Definitely room to im-prove," Jones said. "I don't know why I kept tripping but, yeah, it was aggravating."

Still, Jones had 23 punt re-turn yards, which may not seem like a lot until you con-sider that ND as a team had 46 TOTAL punt return yards in 13 games last season.

"I think he's going to be really good at it as he contin-ues to get more live playing time at that position," Kelly said. "I'm pretty excited about watching him back there."

If you're looking to really nitpick, there was one other knock. As Jones stood on the sideline late in the game, he was under the impression that he was still below the 100-yard mark.

"I actually thought I was still under and they showed it on the ... I don't know if you call that a Jumbotron," he said, uttering a word that can cause ND traditionalists angst, before being told that it's simply a scoreboard. "Yeah, the scoreboard thing. They showed I had 138."

Notre Dame's TJ Jones makes a catch in front of Temple's Anthony Robey during the Notre Dame vs. Temple college football game on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013, at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN