Wednesday, December 1, 2010
OU's Jones will try to right Lincoln wrongs
By David Ubben
Landry Jones has never experienced a night worse than the one he did the last time he lined up across from the Blackshirts. When he wasn't getting chased by all-everything superstar defender Ndamukong Suh, he was throwing it to the wrong guys in red.
The Oklahoma quarterback threw for 245 yards. His counterpart, Zac Lee, threw for 35 yards. The Sooners outgained Nebraska 325-180.
But, and it was a big but, Jones finished with five interceptions. Oklahoma lost 10-3.
Landry Jones will face a stiff test in the Nebraska defense Saturday.
His first interception was deep in Oklahoma territory and returned 22 yards to the Sooners' 1-yard line. Nebraska scored the game's only touchdown on the next play.
Three more came in Nebraska territory and the fifth came on an odd, early Hail Mary on second down with time for a few more plays from midfield.
"We moved the ball well against them when we played them in Lincoln, but they really stuffed us and we didn’t get a lot out of it once we neared the red zone," said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops. "They made more plays and stopped us."
Nebraska finished last season as the nation's No. 18 pass defense. The Blackshirts are at No. 2 this year.
"They do a great job in their structure, they’re very disciplined, how they play," Stoops said. "Their coverage is outstanding, in how they cover you and work their coverage. So, they really make you work to execute to play well to move the football."
Nebraska is better, but Jones is, too.
He's a sophomore with 22 starts under his belt, no longer a freshman learning how to fill a Heisman winner's shoes on the fly.
"He's got a huge arm. He's got a quick release. What I love here in this last half of the season is he's really feels his way in the pocket really well," Stoops said. "He's been really stepping up and buying himself more time in a good way. He's smart in what he's doing."
And in the past two weeks, he's been able to do what he couldn't do as a freshman: be the same quarterback away from Owen Field. His quarterback rating was a plump 160.04 at home in 2009, but slimmed to 110.25 on the road.
His touchdown-to-interception ratio was particularly skewed. In six home games, he threw 18 touchdowns to four interceptions. In seven games away from home, he threw just eight touchdowns to 10 picks, including the five in Lincoln.
Jones struggled early with interceptions against both Baylor and Oklahoma State, but rebounded particularly well against Oklahoma State, tossing a pair of long touchdown passes late in the fourth quarter to help Oklahoma clinch the South on its rival's home field. He also tied a school record with 468 yards against an improving Oklahoma State secondary.
Now, he'll face the toughest secondary in the Big 12, with more on the line than any game this season. Nobody will blink at a pick or two, but if Jones makes the plays necessary for Oklahoma to win and reach a BCS bowl once again, that nightmare in Lincoln as a freshman will be a hazy memory in the minds of Sooners fans.
"That’ll be a big key, if we can move the ball, but also in the red zone," Stoops said. "Are you able to score?"