The first three games of Landry Jones' senior season didn't go the way he'd hoped.
His completion percentage was down from a year ago, better than just two Big 12 quarterbacks and he had yet to top 300 yards passing in a game, a feat he'd managed eight times a season ago and 10 times in 2010.
"To his defense, it’s only his third game with a whole new receiving cast, between tight ends and receivers there's only one guy that worked with him a year ago in games, and that was Kenny Stills," Bob Stoops said this week about the loss to Kansas State back in September that marred the Sooners' start.
Since then, Jones and the Sooners offense have looked dominant. Jones has topped 290 yards twice and thrown seven touchdowns to just two interceptions. His completion percentage is still lower than it was a year ago, but Jones has clearly been more productive.
"The entire offense is executing better, understandably so when you’ve got all new receivers and tight ends," Stoops said. "It just took awhile for everybody to get the precision down to what it needed to be. It continues to improve and hopefully it'll keep improving."
The biggest help for Jones has been the emergence of a running game that leads the Big 12 with almost six yards a carry. They've been led by Damien Williams, who racked up 552 yards on just 74 carries and has emerged as the Sooners' starting back.
As he's risen, so has Jones, leading Oklahoma to blowout wins over No. 15 Texas Tech and Texas, as well as an easy win over Kansas at home on Saturday.
"I am lot different now. I have been playing a lot better," Jones told reporters this week. "Obviously after games like Texas Tech, Texas and last week against Kansas, you are going to have a lot higher confidence and I think everyone on this team is going to have higher confidence because of the way we have been playing."
Kansas coach Charlie Weis had a front row seat on Saturday, and noticed the difference, too.
"Landry was at the top of his game against us. When he’s on, he’s on. Unfortunately, we got him on one of those nights. Go back and look at the K-State game, that was a game that he wasn’t on. He’s got good players around him and when he’s in a groove he’s one of the best," Weis said. "When you’re an accurate passer that’s big and strong and experienced, that’s a very dangerous combination."
It could be the case for Notre Dame this week, the highest-ranked defense Jones will have faced all season. The undefeated, No. 5 Fighting Irish come to Norman on Saturday and should find a hyped atmostphere. In the middle of it all could be Jones, looking like a better version of his old self.
"He’s played more football games with (his targets)," Stoops said. "You’ve got to get on the field and experience game situations. The more you do that, usually the better your timing and everything and trust with guys comes."