OU loss lies with Landry Jones
Senior quarterback reverts to old, destructive tendencies in loss to Kansas State
NORMAN, Okla. -- Landry Jones' fumble against Kansas State sure looked like his fumble in the Cotton Bowl two years ago.
A polished player in so many ways, Jones continues to make the same mindless mistakes he did as a young quarterback. And Saturday night, it cost Oklahoma big, as Kansas State stunned the sixth-ranked Sooners, 24-19.
"I played pretty terrible," Jones said. "We played really dumb football, especially me.
"This one is on me."
Dumb football is not what you'd expect from a fifth-year player in his fourth season as the starting quarterback. But that's what the Sooners got from Jones, whose two costly turnovers led to a pair of K-State touchdowns.
Jones also overthrew tight end Brannon Green, who was wide open in the end zone, on OU's opening drive, which forced the Sooners to settle for a field goal -- and set the tone for the night.
But the turnovers were the difference.
The biggest came with the Sooners leading 3-0 in the second quarter with the ball deep in their own territory. Jones had ample time in the pocket. But when he couldn't find a place to throw, Jones took off for no man's land. Kansas State linebacker Justin Tuggle smashed Jones from behind to shoot the ball loose, and Jarell Childs scooped it up and tumbled into the end zone.
"He had plenty of time. He read it all out and even when he pulled it down and started to do something with [it], he had no immediate pressure," said coach Bob Stoops, usually overly protective of his scrutinized quarterback. "We've got to get rid of the football and go to the next play or punt.
"That's just bad football."
Later in the second half, Jones played more bad football.
The Sooners had finally recaptured the momentum, led 13-10 late in the third quarter and had the crowd back in the game. But Jones airmailed an unnecessary pass over the head of receiver Kenny Stills and into the arms of Kansas State's Ty Zimmerman. Seven plays later, the Wildcats retook the lead for good with Collin Klein's 5-yard touchdown run.
"It's definitely frustrating," Jones said. "We have a lot of good players on this offensive team. We have a lot skill. But it seemed like we couldn't put it together. "The fumble, the pick, missed [Green] on the tight end pop play. A lot of different plays left up to me."
Before this loss, Jones already had his detractors. In fact, center Gabe Ikard admitted in the spring he couldn't believe how many people he had heard say they had wished Jones had gone pro instead of coming back.
During the offseason, Jones spent two weeks with quarterback coach George Whitfield with the hope of improving some of his weaknesses, such as footwork and decision-making. But Saturday, those weaknesses resurfaced.
"I feel like he takes a lot of heat for a lot of mistakes we make -- offensive line, running backs, receivers -- we can't put it all on Landry," Stills said. "We have tremendous, tremendous confidence in Landry. I talked to him already, and told him there's nothing you can do about this game -- it's over.
"All we can do is go back to drawing board on Monday and try not to make those same mistakes in the next game."
Jones held out hope for the season after the loss, noting that most years a one-loss team makes the national championship.
"It's still out in front of us," he said.
But as Jones points out, it starts with the quarterback. And until Jones eliminates the same mindless errors that have plagued an otherwise sterling quarterback career, these Sooners are going nowhere.