Whitewater QB Danny Jones gets used to his snow job
Tuesday’s ice storm forced the cancellation of classes at UW-Whitewater.
The Warhawks’ starting quarterback had one less thing to worry about in preparation for Saturday’s NCAA Division III Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl at Salem, Va.
“The snow was fun at first, but I’ve had enough of it now,” the Pleasanton, Calif., native said. “I’m used to 65 (degrees) and sunny year round.
“I didn’t see much snow growing up, except for our family trips to Lake Tahoe,” Jones said. “Now, that’s all I see.”
Jones’ adjustment on the football field has been much easier. The 6-foot-2, 196-pound senior has been an integral part of the Warhawks’ success.
Jones has thrown for 2,348 yards and 22 touchdowns while leading the Warhawks (13-1) to a third straight appearance in the national title game against Mount Union, Ohio (14-0). The Cal Lutheran University transfer also has rushed for 368 yards and nine touchdowns.
With quarterback and two-time WIAC Player of the Year Justin Jacobs graduating last May and Lance Leipold taking over for the retired coach Bob Berezowitz, the Warhawks had plenty of questions at the quarterback position coming into this season. Jones has answered almost all of them.
“Danny was given an opportunity, and he made the most of it,” Leipold said. “He didn’t have to be Justin Jacobs for us to be successful. His job was to put us in a good situation to win games, and that’s what he’s done.
“We knew as a coaching staff what Danny could bring to this team with his feet. Although he came into the picture late, it was evident by watching him on film that he was very quick and athletic.”
Jones had, by his admission, an average year for Cal Lutheran last season. He threw for 1,836 yards and 20 touchdowns and added 324 yards on the ground for a team that finished 6-3.
Jones’ first glimpse of UW-Whitewater football came while watching last year’s Stagg Bowl while on vacation with his family at Lake Tahoe. He liked what he saw of the Warhawks and the fact that a lot of players would return for the 2007 season. One of those not returning was Jacobs, which made the decision to transfer much easier.
Although he was still enrolled at Division III Cal Lutheran, Jones decided to transfer to Whitewater when former Kingsmen coach Scott Squires resigned before the season.
Jones e-mailed Leipold to get the ball rolling, and videotapes of him playing at Cal Lutheran soon followed. Less than a month into the process, Jones was a Warhawk.
“I knew there would be a lot of expectations coming into the season, not only for me, but for coach (Leipold) as well,” Jones said. “The program was coming off back-to-back Stagg Bowls, and coach was replacing a legend.
“There was obviously a transition period early on, but once everybody got on the same page, things have gone pretty well.”
Jones’ athleticism has allowed offensive coordinator Jim Zebrowski to go with more play-action and designed quarterback draws. That was evident in last Saturday’s semifinal win over Mary Hardin-Baylor, when Jones took off on a 62-yard run that eventually set up Jeff Schebler’s field goal late in the game with the Warhawks clinging to a six-point lead.
“There’s no doubt that was the play of the game,” Leipold said of Jones’ run. “But Danny has the ability to do that, and he’s shown that all year.
“Maybe Danny’s stats don’t stick out like some others do, but he’s made a lot of big plays for us this year.
“It comes back to winning games and putting your team in the best position to do that. And that’s what Danny’s done.”
He may not be accustomed to Wisconsin’s harsh winter weather, but Danny Jones has grown accustomed to winning. His goal is to continue that Saturday.
Stagg bowl facts
What: UW-Whitewater (13-1) vs. Mount Union (14-0), 2007 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl.
Where: Salem Stadium, Salem, Va.
When: 3 p.m. Saturday.
TV/Radio: ESPN (Channel 27 on Janesville cable); WKCH (106.5 FM).
Last updated: 11:15 am Thursday, December 13, 2012