Landry Jones' legacy up in the air
OU quarterback has statistical records, but Notre Dame win would mean more
NORMAN, Okla. -- The words of Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones sum it up perfectly:
"Around this place you're remembered for championships, [playing well in] Texas games and those big nonconference games like Florida State or Notre Dame," the fifth-year senior said this week. "Nonconference, big games like this, playing big teams -- you'll be remembered by some of these games."
His legacy should be secure. But in the eyes of many, it is not.
"After playing behind Sam [Bradford], there's been so much pressure on him," said defensive end R.J. Washington, who joined Jones in OU's 2008 recruiting class. "Whatever he did wasn't ever good enough. We won, [he] threw for a bunch of yards, but 'That's only because we have good receivers.' "
Though Jones has never lost to Texas as a starter -- he's 3-0 -- and led OU to a Big 12 championship in 2010, there's a segment of Sooners fans who have a high level of contempt for the signal-caller. They're quick to remember his miscues and even quicker to forget his triumphs.
When the eighth-ranked Sooners host No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Jones has an opportunity to cement his legacy as one of the best quarterbacks in OU history and create memories that could turn that contempt into reverence.
"There are a lot of people that love Landry and a lot of people that think otherwise of him," receiver Kenny Stills said. "If he pulls out a win, I think there will be a lot more people on his side."
The opportunity to put a stamp on his legacy couldn't come at a better time for Jones. He's playing arguably the best football of his career after a three-week stretch in which he has thrown for 871 yards, 7 touchdowns and 1 interception as the Sooners outscored opponents 156-48.
"As a leader, he's really come through these past three games," tackle Lane Johnson said. "He's on fire right now."
Jones' three-game stretch of quality play comes after two weeks of major heat from those outside the program. His two turnovers played a major role in OU's 24-19 loss to Kansas State on Sept. 22.
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OU will be counting on Jones to play well and protect the ball against an Irish defense that has allowed more than 300 yards just once in seven games, allows 4.45 yards per play and has forced 17 turnovers.
"Now is his time to put a stamp," Washington said. "And who better [to do it against] than another prestigious program like Notre Dame, a team we've never played and a team that has a great defense.
"This is his chance. It's his chance to leave his mark, his signature, before he gets out of here."
If Jones does, it's likely the performance will be remembered long after he leaves Norman.
"We need him to play big," King said. "If he comes out and has a big game and we win, it will be shown on every highlight from now until there are no more Oklahoma Sooners."