Northwestern WR Tony Jones excited about matchup vs. Ohio State’s Roby
BY SETH GRUEN October 2, 2013 8:41PM
Updated: November 4, 2013 12:16PM
Northwestern wide receiver Tony Jones has been answering so many text messages this week, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t developed carpal tunnel syndrome.
But he hasn’t been fending off ticket requests for the game Saturday against Ohio State.
Jones has had to respond to one question over and over again: How anxious are you to match up against Buckeyes All-America cornerback Bradley Roby?
But it wasn’t until Wednesday, the last day the Wildcats are available to the media, that Jones actually had to expound on the subject.
Of course, texting back and forth with family and friends prepared him somewhat — enough to get him to chuckle when asked about the duel.
“I knew that at some point someone was going to ask me, especially with who he is and everybody texting me about it,” Jones said.
“I’ve been waiting for that question. It’s a great challenge. You want to play against the best. From what I hear, he’s the best. He’s made a lot of great plays, so I’m definitely very excited for the challenge. He’s a very good player.”
The matchup will serve as a barometer to evaluate how much Jones has progressed.
A redshirt junior, Jones leads the Wildcats with 24 receptions for 362 yards and three touchdowns. He caught nine passes for 185 yards and a touchdown against Syracuse. He quieted down the last two games, but that’s largely attributable to Northwestern running the ball against inferior competition.
That won’t be the case against the Buckeyes, who are solid against the run. If Jones is able to perform well against Roby, it will validate what coach Pat Fitzgerald has been saying since Week 2.
“He’s playing as well as any receiver in this league, and he’s working real hard, and that’s all we can ask,” Fitzgerald said. “Do your best, and that’s what he’s given us, so we’re thankful for that.”
The battle will feature two of the Big Ten’s fastest players.
Roby runs a 4.3 40-yard dash. Jones says he’s somewhere between 4.3 and 4.4. Fast receivers have given Roby problems.
Last week, Roby lined up against Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis, who caught 10 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown.
It wasn’t simple pitch-and-catch. Roby had Abbrederis covered well for much of the game. But Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave had his best game of the season, and Abbrederis ran great routes.
Now Jones has a blueprint for attacking Roby.
“[Abbrederis] was very technically sound,” Jones said. “Ran great routes, caught the ball and made the most of every opportunity that came his way. So that’s definitely what I’ll be looking to do, just getting open, making the big plays and helping this team win.”