September 1, 2012; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Landry Jones (12) throws a pass in the first quarter against the UTEP Miners at Sun Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE
Landry Jones wasn't perfect on Saturday night in El Paso but he also wasn't a major reason for concern either. In fact, I saw a lot more good than bad from Oklahoma's signal caller and the pressure that UTEP was bringing gave him the opportunity to show off a new sense of poise and calmness in the pocket as well his improved footwork.
His touchdown pass to Kenny Stills in the first quarter last Saturday night could be an indicator of the new and improved Landry Jones.
Oklahoma is lined up in a four receiver set with Justin Brown at the top and Kenny Stills in the slot just inside of him. This isn't a new set for the Sooners but it is one that can get them in some trouble if UTEP blitzes. Brennan Clay is the running back who will look for an extra defender. If there's no blitz then he'll release as the safety valve.
The Miners don't blitz on the play but what Landry Jones sees will require him to buy some extra time, and to do so he must show some poise and patience. Notice where he is on the hash marks.
UTEP only rushes four, dropping seven into coverage. Clay releases on a route, because there is no blitzer, which takes up a linebacker. So now there are six defenders covering four receivers. However, look at what's going on at the top. The topside linebacker is late getting into coverage on tight end Taylor McNamera and still has eyes in the Oklahoma backfield.
Kenny Stills is cutting up to the sideline which is going to cause some confusion with the defensive backs and spring him free. At the bottom Trey Metoyer is drawing a double team.
Inexplicably both linebackers focus on Clay which leaves two defensive backs to cover McNamera, Bown and Stills. Because of the break that Stills makes the defensive backs pretty much run into each other and there isn't a defender within four yards of him. Jones sees this and even though the pocket has already set up for him he needs to buy some more time for Stills to get down field. For this to happen he's going to do two things that are the signs of a mature quarterback.
The first thing that Jones does is look to the left to draw the attention away from his target at the top. Look what this does to the linebackers. Both of them are caught reading the quarterbacks eyes and are flowing towards the direction he's staring. The other thing that he's doing by looking to the left is keeping the double team on Metoyer. Because of this move Jones will need to buy another second or two so he's also started drifting his body to the left as well.
Now, nearly five seconds after the snap, Jones sets up to throw. Because of his ploy of drawing the defense to his left (look at how far he is from the hash) he's got an easy target at the top. Because he has to go back across the field the throw won't be easy for Jones, especially when you consider that he's about to get blasted by a defensive lineman.
On the other end of the throw we find Kenny Stills still open by three yards which resulted in an easy score, after the catch.
Again, Landry wasn't perfect on Saturday night (No quarterback was) but there are sure signs of improvement in some of the most critical areas of his game.