With all the key components involved in this weekend's match-up against Florida State there may not be a more important one than quarterback Landry Jones. Experienced receivers? Check! Experienced offensive line? Check? Explosive running backs? Check? Quarterback who instills confidence when playing on the road? Hmmmmmm...not so much.
The question here is why? Why don't the fans have the same confidence in their quarterback that the coaches do? In games that Landry Jones has played in away from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium the Sooners are 8-7. While not completely a confidence building stat there's plenty of reason to be optimistic as the Sooners travel to Tallahassee.
Landry Jones On The Road As A Freshman In 2009
|#20 BYU||6-12-0||51||0||1||L 14-13|
|#25 Kansas||26-38-1||252||2||0||W 35-13|
|Texas Tech||18-35-1||262||1||3||L 41-13|
|#21 Stanford||30-51-1||418||3||0||W 31-27|
Landry Jones was thrust into the national spotlight in 2009 when Sam Bradford went down with a shoulder injury that would eventually end his season and make him the successor to Oklahoma's 2008 Heisman winner. He picked up his first win away from home when the Sooners traveled to Lawrence to play the 25th ranked Jayhawks. His shining moment of the season was the Sun Bowl performance against 21st ranked Stanford in which he passed for a record breaking 418 yards.
While some progress can be measured along the course of his freshman season it certainly wasn't what fans were expecting from the quarterback position and to be honest it wasn't what Landry Jones was expecting either. Jones went through the spring and summer of 2009 preparing to be Sam Bradford's back up and when he was forced to enter the BYU game it was obvious that he wasn't fully prepared to be the starter. Then again, what backup quarterback really is? Jones struggled during the 2009 season but so did the rest of the team. The offensive line couldn't block, the receivers couldn't catch and the defense was schizophrenic.
It was clear though that Jones had to work on his footwork, learn to read through his progressions and learn patience. Of course it would be unrealistic to a freshman not to play like a freshman.
Landry Jones On The Road As A Sophomore In 2010
|#21 Texas||24-39-0||236||2||1||W 28-20|
|#11 Missouri||32-50-2||303||3||1||L 36-27|
|Texas A&M||36-59-1||290||1||4||L 33-19|
|#9 Oklahoma State||37-62-3||468||4||2||W 47-41|
|#13 Nebraska||23-41-1||342||1||2||W 23-20|
There are a few things to notice here. First, the increase in his number of attempts shows how much more the coaches trusted him with the offense. It was Bradford's team going into 2009 and Landry's team going into 2010. The stats clearly reflect that which leads us to the second thing. With 123 extra passes come extra yards and extra touchdowns. However his interceptions didn't go up and his sacks only increased by two. To put this in perspective, in 2009 Jones threw one interception for every 26.7 passes away from home and was sacked the same amount. In 2010 he bettered his ratio to one interception to every 39 passes on the road and was sacked once every 32.5 attempts.
He's still not the finished product but if his progression into this year is the same as between his freshman and sophomore seasons then there's no doubt he'll be mentioned in the same breath as Jason White and Bradford. He's taken over leadership of the offense and his maturation is reflected on the field as well as off. Everything can be traced back to the halftime of last year's Bedlam game. After throwing three first half interceptions Jones came out in the second half and willed his team to victory. He went on to lead the Sooners against a Nebraska squad who arguably had the best defense Oklahoma had faced all year. He followed that up with an MVP performance against UCONN in the Fiesta Bowl.
Is he perfect? No. But he's a lot closer than he was in September of 2009!