Sooners' Fate This Season Now Rests With Landry Jones
Originally Published: Oct 27, 2009 6:34 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer
NORMAN, Oklahoma – With Sam Bradford’s career at Oklahoma likely over, redshirt freshman Landry Jones now officially takes over as the Sooners’ long-term starting quarterback.
Jones has played in every game this season and has made four starts, but during that time he was simply filling in until Bradford could return. Now that Bradford has elected to undergo season-ending surgery, the offense must run through Landry Jones.
Jones’ extended playing time has helped him prepare as the permanent starter, and head coach Bob Stoops said he has been very impressed with the way Jones has handled himself.
“When Sam was healthy, he was the boss and Landry’s sitting there quiet and paying attention,” Stoops said. “As soon as Sam was down in BYU, [Jones] was on it. It was maybe a little surprising how natural it was for him. He didn’t blink a bit, and players sense that.”
Several players have praised Jones’ leadership ability, but coaches have also complimented the maturity he has exhibited.
“He’s accepted every challenge and opportunity,” said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. “He doesn’t have any fear; he stands in the pocket, he’ll get hit and bounce back up. I think he’s shown some toughness, I think he’s shown some courage and some strength as a young guy.”
Sam Bradford also noted that Jones had to go through a difficult transition, but that he took it in stride and slid seamlessly into the starting lineup.
“I think Landry’s a great player,” Bradford said. “I think he’s been put into some really tough situations this year. It’s not easy to come in the middle of a game, especially going through practice not getting as many reps as the starter. I think he’s done a tremendous job, especially stepping up and being a leader of this team.”
So far this season, Jones has thrown for 1,363 yards and 13 touchdowns. His completion percentage and passing efficiency rating are slightly higher than Bradford’s.
“[Jones has] played well, and he is making good progress,” Stoops said. “I think his poise, his confidence, his ability to throw the ball are all positives.”
In his first conference road game Saturday, Jones threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns, and led the Sooners to a dominating 35-13 win over Kansas.
“Last week, I was extremely proud of him; going on the road in the Big 12, playing against a ranked team and playing the way he did,” Sam Bradford said. “I just think it shows the tremendous upside that he has, and I think he’s going to be a tremendous player here.”
Sprinkled among Jones’ strong play have been a few mental mistakes, which Bob Stoops said do not concern him.
“I think it’s just natural as a young guy; there’s times where he can make a better read or needs to go a different place with the ball,” Stoops said. “Coach [Josh] Heupel will shape that in him. He gets better and better with it. We’re very pleased with where he’s at, and just naturally the more he’s on the field he should continue to improve.”
Against Texas, Jones threw costly interceptions on the Sooners’ final two drives, which helped the Longhorns seal their 16-13 win in Dallas. It was the second time this season he has thrown more than one interception in a game, with the first coming against Tulsa.
“I’d like to see him have a little bit greater sense of clock awareness,” Coach Wilson said. “There’s a few plays that could haunt us that he needs to learn from. But for the most part, he’s been very calm.”
Wilson also said Jones has responded well to the amount of pressure placed on him, and that he thinks the redshirt freshman’s future is bright.
“The toughest job is second quarterback; you’re one play away from having to lead the team,” Wilson said. “He had to do it.”