OU's Jones settling into groove?
Coming off solid game, Sooners signal-caller trusts playmakers to help out
NORMAN, Okla. -- In Red River Rivalry history, three Oklahoma quarterbacks have gone 3-0 as starters against the Longhorns.
This weekend, Landry Jones can become the fourth.
Going into Dallas, the mood in Norman about the Sooners' senior quarterback is starkly different from a week ago, when some fans clamored for Jones to be benched in place of sophomore Blake Bell after he struggled in a home loss to Kansas State.But following a sterling performance in a win over Texas Tech, faith in Jones has been restored in Sooner Nation as OU gets ready for the Longhorns.[+] EnlargeMatthew Emmons/US PresswireLandry Jones was nearly flawless in last season's Red River Rivalry game. Can he and the Sooners beat Texas for the third straight year?
"Landry was really strong, really good," coach Bob Stoops said. "We put him in better positions. And he executed better."
Did he ever.
In a multiple attack that refocused on short and intermediate passes, Jones was surgical, completing 25 of 32 throws for 259 yards on attempts shorter than 15 yards.
"His decision-making was really good," said offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. "He took care of the football. He moved in the pocket. He was accurate."
Jones, who also threw a pair of third-down touchdown passes in the 41-20 rout of the Red Raiders, agreed that it was his best game since losing All-American receiver Ryan Broyles to a knee injury last November.
"I think that was the most in rhythm I've felt in a long, long, long time around this place dating back to even last year," said Jones, who before Saturday had thrown just eight touchdown passes with 11 turnovers in his previous eight games. "I think what we did offensively was great and I think Coach Heupel did a great job of developing a scheme and developing plays for us to get us in rhythm and all those sort of things."
As gorgeous as Jones' touchdown passes were, maybe the most encouraging play of the Tech game came late in the second quarter. His first read, outside receiver Justin Brown, was blanketed. Jones surveyed the rest of the field, but his other receivers were covered, too. So he threw the ball away, and the Sooners settled for a field goal to take a two-possession lead into halftime.
"I was seeing the defense and not trying to force it into tight spots," said Jones, whose two turnovers against the Wildcats both led to Kansas State touchdowns. "That's more of what we were trying to do and more of an emphasis I made.
Instead of trying to force it downfield to favorite target Kenny Stills, Jones got the ball into the hands of seven different receivers, who totaled 174 yards after the catch, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
On one notable completion, Jones stepped into the pocket to dodge the rush, then dumped a sideways strike over the outstretched arms of Tech linebacker Will Smith to streaking tailback Damien Williams, who raced 38 yards down the sidelines. The Sooners scored a few plays later to take a commanding 31-13 lead early in the third quarter.
"It isn't about getting it to one guy," Stoops said. "When you're not trying to force it, that's when you're operating at your best."
Jones was operating at his best for the first time in awhile. And if he can keep it going this weekend, he can go down in Red River history.
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