Oklahoma Football: 5 Goals Sooners QB Landry Jones Must Set for Himself
There are countless reasons a highly touted junior quarterback chooses to stick around for his senior year.
For Oklahoma Sooners signal-caller Landry Jones—37-game starter and holder of 13 school passing records—the decision came down to several factors. Jones recently addressed a few of them, saying, "I don't get another senior year, I don't get another chance to win a national championship."
Good reasons, indeed, but his July 6 wedding to classmate Whitney Hand likely had a little to do with the decision, as well.
Jones later addressed the proverbial elephant in the room: the fact that Jones' stats had regressed considerably during his junior year—along with his draft stock. "Once I got that [NFL draft] evaluation back, I thought, 'OK, well, if I go out next year maybe I get drafted earlier. The worst thing that could happen is I fall, but I'm not going to let myself regress and get worse.'"
In order to get back to where he was before the 2011 season, Jones must improve his play. Let's take a look at five realistic statistical goals Jones should set for his senior season.
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2012 Goal: 68.0%
This is a very attainable number for Jones, and one that will show NFL scouts he has worked hard on his game and improved his accuracy.
It is unlikely he will reach last year's top-ranked quarterback, Boise State's Kellen Moore (74.1 percent), but a 68 percent would put Jones in the top 15, a giant leap from his No. 41 ranking from last season.
Another reason to keep this number a little lower than other quarterbacks is the fact that Jones' receiving corps was the victim of massive turnover from last season. There could be some growing pains early as he and his new targets get accustomed to each other.
Yards Per Completion
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2012 Goal: 13.5
Yards per attempt is the customary stat to use to gauge a quarterback's ability to throw downfield, but I like to use completions so the number isn't muddied by incomplete passes.
Unlike most of Jones' stats, he actually improved in this department his junior year. I set the bar using Sam Bradford's 2008 Heisman season (14.4), so 13.5 is a very realistic number—a good increase from last year but not unattainable.
Jones has occasionally been labeled a "system" quarterback who racked up stats throwing short passes in OU's fast-paced, pass-heavy offense. A big jump in YPC will show scouts he can throw all types of passes.
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2012 Goal: 42
This is where Jones really needs to pour it on. Big touchdown numbers jump off the page when NFL scouts are evaluating prospects. Forty-two would likely put him near the top nationally.
Jones struggled to get the ball in the end zone last season, especially in the red zone. His troubles led to head coach Bob Stoops installing the "BellDozer" package, a short-yardage power package featuring backup quarterback Blake Bell that excelled in punching the ball in the end zone.
Next season, Jones needs to keep Bell on the bench by showing he is capable of succeeding the high-pressure situation.
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2012 Goal: 7
This might be the most important stat category for Jones to improve on. If he has trouble throwing picks in college, there is no way he will get a serious look in the NFL. Cutting his 2011 number in half would go a long way in convincing scouts they can trust him with their offense.
Other quarterbacks who threw seven interceptions last year were USC's Matt Barkley, Oregon's Darron Thomas and Northwestern's Dan Persa—all considered to be top-tier quarterbacks in 2011.
Third-Down Completion Percentage
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2012 Goal: 46.0%
While converting on third down isn't always directly related to the quarterback—a lineman misses his block on 3rd-and-2 and the run is stuffed, for example—it is still up to Jones to manage his offense and keep them in a good place to succeed.
An incompletion on first down puts stress on an offensive coordinator and a ball thrown behind a receiver could hinder his chance at extra yardage, keeping him from moving the chains.
Last season, Oklahoma ranked 51st nationally in this category with first place going to Wisconsin at 53.8 percent, so 46.0 percent is a realistic improvement for Jones that will help add to his resume as he enters the NFL.