A few days ago, ESPN.com Big 12 blogger David Ubben posed a question about Big 12 quarterbacks:
Who is the better quarterback - Oklahoma's Landry Jones or West Virginia's Geno Smith?
Based on the responses to the question, nearly 66% of those voted believe the title belongs to Smith. However, I disagree.
Looking solely at the numbers, Smith does appear to be the better quarterback. Per Ubben, the 2011 stats break down as such:
- Jones: 355-of-652 (54.4 percent), 4,463 yards, 29 TD, 15 INT
- Smith: 346-of-526 (65.8 percent), 4,385 yards, 31 TD, 7 INT
Smith did have half the interceptions of Jones in 2011. That cannot be dismissed. However, it is premature to peg these quarterbacks against one another. Smith has yet to prove himself against teams that Jones is very familiar with. While some may not believe this is a major issue, it can have a great impact on how effective a player is.
As teams begin to make the switches from one conference to another, players that shined in one may not in their new homes. I am not implying that Smith will suddenly be an ineffective quarterback for West Virginia, but I am saying it is going to be a different landscape for the senior.
Jones is definitely going to be in the Heisman talk for 2012, where as Smith will most likely be a dark horse who will have a lot to prove to be considered. Smith will most likely end up like USC quarterback Matt Barkley did in 2011, which was left off the invitation list for New York City. However, it doesn't mean the WVU quarterback can be discounted. In 2011, the Big 12 was ruled by outstanding quarterbacks such as Jones, Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden. Now Smith has a chance to join an elite group of individuals.
While Jones' junior year was a bit underwhelming compared to his sophomore year, he is still the Big 12's premier passer. The 2012 season looks to be a strong one for Oklahoma and Jones. While a national title could be in the cards for both teams, Jones holds the upper hand due to experience.
This type of experience was proved by Nebraska joining the Big Ten. A favorite to win the Legends Division and potentially the Big Ten title game, the Huskers found themselves watching from home as Wisconsin and Michigan State battled it out. It's not that Nebraska was incapable, it was simply that the Big Ten landscape was an unfamiliar one and it was going to take time to adjust.
So, 2012 is Jones' season. Smith will learn a great deal and could really find his rhythm late in the season. Don't count out the Mountaineers for the future though, as Smith will become a quarterback to remember in his new conference.
This is just Jones' year.