Wednesday, April 4, 2012
OU's Jones talks about time with QB guru
By David Ubben
NORMAN, Okla. -- Landry Jones was watching ESPN the first time he'd heard of George Whitfield. The California-based quarterbacks coach helped Heisman Trophy winner -- and eventual top pick -- Cam Newton prepare for the NFL draft last year, and ESPN's cameras followed both Whitfield and Newton for much of the process.
After Whitfield contacted Jones' father earlier this offseason, the Oklahoma quarterback decided he wanted a closer look.
To his coaches' surprise, Landry Jones visited a quarterback guru in California over spring break.
Jones left last Friday for Stanford's campus to work with Whitfield for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon for nearly a week, returning home the following Wednesday.
"I heard he was a good fundamentals coach, so I decided instead of spending all my time at the beach or something like that, I’d go out there and get some work in," said Jones, set to embark on his senior season in the fall.
The visit focused on those physical fundamentals, and Jones didn't get much coaching on the mental side of the game. For one, he was looking to shorten his release by holding the ball higher in the pocket, but doing so in a manner that remained comfortable.
Despite traveling to the San Francisco Bay Area, Jones didn't get any time on Northern California's scenic coast.
"I was pretty exhausted at the end of the day," he said.
Oklahoma's coaches, however, said they were unaware of Jones' jaunt to the West Coast during his time off. Coach Bob Stoops didn't know about it, and neither did co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. Norvell added that fellow offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, the Sooners' quarterbacks' coach, likely did not know. Heupel was not made available for interviews on Tuesday.
"I think it’s always good to get any pointer from anybody you can. You can assess it all you want and how much you use of it," Stoops said. "If you think I’m at all sensitive about our quarterback lineage here and how they’ve been schooled, I think you’re mistaken. I think ours is maybe as good as anyone’s in the country, so I’m not real insecure about what we’ve been doing."
Said Jones: "Heupel’s a great coach, I’m just getting a little different perspective on things and seeing if he could help me out. It was just one of those deals where I wanted to get some extra work in."
Norvell, who had met Whitfield but didn't have an opinion on the coach, also supported Jones' decision.
"They work hard and help kids out there," Norvell said. "I think it’s good that he goes and talks to people and learns, I know he’s been to camps in the summer."
Jones was joined by Clemson quarterback Tahj Boyd, who Jones noted "likes" new defensive coordinator Brent Venables, who spend the past 12 seasons at Oklahoma before taking the Clemson coordinator job.
Presumed No. 1 pick Andrew Luck also worked with Whitfield on Stanford's campus while Jones was in California. Luck would work out after Jones, and the two got time to talk between sessions.
As for results, Jones says it still may be time before he sees them.
"I think it’s an over time type deal," he said. "It’s pretty soon after spring break, I’m still trying to work on stuff, trying to button some stuff up."
And Stoops says he's not worried about any coaching advice from Whitfield or Heupel clashing, or the almost-four-year starter getting overwhelmed.
"I didn’t notice any clashing out there today," Stoops said. "He seems to be good ol’ Landry like he usually is."