Jay Jones returns for second stint at Lafayette

Published 2:40 pm Monday, April 17, 2023

This must feel all too familiar for Lafayette fans.

With head coach Anthony Hart set to return for his second stint in the red and gold this fall, the Commodore faithful already had a good reason to feel a wave of nostalgia wash over them.

They’ll now continue to ride that wave after Hart announced the hiring of former Commodore assistant Jay Jones as defensive coordinator.

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Jones worked on the Commodores’ staff under former head coaches Eric Robertson and Michael Fair from 2014-2018, helping guide Lafayette to the state championship in program history during Fair’s first year at the helm in 2016.

He is now set to rejoin a Lafayette team that is in the midst of a rebuilding process following a string of disappointing playoff defeats.

“I’m excited to get back and work for Coach Hart again… I coached for him at Madison Central so we had a previous relationship,” Jones said. “I know a bunch of folks that are still there [at Lafayette] so we’re excited to get back and get after it.”

Jones will be making the transition back to defense after spending the majority of his coaching career on the offensive side of the ball.

He is no stranger to defense however, having started his career on that side of the ball at Nicholls State before lobbying for an offensive job while working under head coach Houston Nutt at Ole Miss.

“My dad is a 25-year defensive coordinator so I’ve been around defense my entire life,” Jones said. “My first few years coaching were on the defensive side of the ball.”

Jones believes his experience as an offensive coordinator has only given him more insight into the defensive side of the ball as well.

He argued that experience allows him to put himself in the shoes of opposing offensive coordinators, giving him a better understanding of how they might try to attack certain defensive looks.

“I’ve been on the offensive side so I know what the offensive coordinator is looking for,” Jones said. “Because of all that prior knowledge of me being the OC attacking defenses, as the defensive coordinator I know what the offense is looking for and I’ll be able to counter that.”

As far as schematics are concerned, Jones said the goal will be striking a balance between defending the increasingly-popular spread offense and finding consistent ways to slow down run-heavy teams like West Point and Clarksdale.

He said most of the defense he plans on installing will depend on the personnel available, but added that he is partial to three-down fronts.

“Me personally, I like three-down, whether it’s the 3-4 or whatever variation of it but for the most part I do like a three-down [front] with the spread offenses nowadays,” Jones said. “You got to take into consideration also that you gotta stop West Point to win state, you gotta stop them to win district and now with Clarksdale in the district — and Clarksdale’s huge, they’re gonna go two-tight and run the ball so you’ve gotta be able to stop those teams in order to win the district.”

The Commodores will have to deal with lofty expectations no matter how they line up, with fans eager to see the winningest coach in program history on the sidelines once again.

Hart put together an impressive résumé during his first tenure at Lafayette, winning the Commodores’ first two state championships, racking up the most wins (80) and posting the best winning percentage (.833) in program history.

With Jones at his side, Lafayette will have coaches from all three state championship runs on staff as they search for their first region title since making the jump to 5A in 2017.