Landry Jones' Poise, Confidence Leads Sooners To Victory

Sunday, November 18th 2012, 1:07 am
By: News 9

The clock at Milan Puskar Stadium showed 2:41. Two minutes and 41 seconds for Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones to write a bit of a different story than the one written by his critics about his career at Oklahoma. 161 seconds to write his own story, rather than have his story written for him.

Jones did exactly that, driving the Sooners 54 yards for the game-winning touchdown, a four-yard slant to Kenny Stills with 24 seconds remaining, giving the Sooners a wild 50-49 win over West Virginia Saturday night.

The simple slant seemed exactly that at the time, until quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel revealed more after the game. Heupel said Jones saw single coverage on Stills on the outside and audibled to the slant route. It was a decision that reeked of confidence, of poise, of experience.

Heupel ended his revelation with, "Never been prouder of a QB."

There aren't many performances that would make a coach or a fan more proud of a player, especially when the player is seemingly trying to win the game by himself. 38-for-51 for 554 yards with six touchdowns and zero sacks.

Throughout his career, Jones has frustrated Sooner fans every year with his maddeningly inconsistent play. One game, he'll be on top of the world, the cream of the crop of college quarterbacks. The next, he'll be making mistakes true freshmen make in their first career start, plays a fifth year senior and four-year starter should never make.

Through it all, Jones has persevered, becoming possibly the most underappreciated player in OU history, and owning virtually every passing record at OU. Yet, despite Jones' dedication and unwavering commitment to the game, many OU fans could not have cared less Jones gave up the NFL to return to OU for his senior season. In fact, there were many who wanted him to leave.

Saturday night, Jones put the team on his back and led them to victory basically on his own. Armed with a group of receivers which, up until August, he'd never worked with consistently (sans Stills), Jones directed the offense with the poise and decision-making you'd expect from a fifth-year senior playing in his 50th college football game. Jones wasn't perfect – underthrowing a jump ball to Stills early in the fourth quarter that was intercepted by West Virginia – but he consistently made the throws OU desperately needed him to make in order to keep pace in the crazy shootout.

After West Virginia scored to go up 43-38 on OU, Jones went to work with 7:10 remaining in the game. He drove the Sooners 79 yards in seven plays, hitting 5-for-6 passes for 77 yards and a seven-yard touchdown to Stills to give OU a 44-43 lead.

Jones got zero help from the OU defense Saturday night. The Sooners gave up a program-record 778 yards to the Mountaineers, including 458 on the ground. So when West Virginia went 92 yards in three plays to retake the lead at 49-44, it wasn't really a surprise for anyone who had been watching the whole game.

Instead of turning into the Landry Jones OU fans have made him out to be – a timid, scared, mistake-prone quarterback, ready to panic at the first sign of trouble – Jones turned into the leader everyone has always expected him to be—poised, confident, in control. Jones marched the Sooners 54 yards in six plays, throwing four perfect strikes, including the game-winner to Stills on fourth-and three from the WVU five-yard line.

It's unclear what the end of Landry Jones' career will look like. There is still the possibility to beat rival Oklahoma State for a third time, to win a second Big 12 title, to go 4-0 in bowl games, including two BCS bowls. Many more accomplishments could be ahead of Jones, but Saturday night in Morgantown, it took just 140 seconds for Jones to rescue an OU team that seemed destined for defeat, an accomplishment many had no faith he could achieve.

At the same time, he just may have rewritten the story of his career, a story that up until Saturday night had been written more by others than himself.