Hard Work: How Landry Jones Staked His Claim At Oklahoma
After his performance in the Sun Bowl, Landry Jones had accomplished many things. An OU bowl record (and career high) 418 passing yards. Proof that he can win away from the familiar confines of Owen Field. Getting Oklahoma what has become an elusive bowl trophy. But the most important achievement Jones may have made that day is procuring the OU coaching staff's trust.
Trust that the former New Mexico gatorade player of the year can lead the Sooners in the future. A future that appears bright. How bright? Many believe just a few good offensive linemen away from another run at a national title. That bright. Landry has proven that given time by the big guys up front, he can find the open man and light up the scoreboard.
With the string of injuries that the Sooners have endured this year, OU was still able to hold it all together. Showing the resolve of the Oklahoma coaching staff, and the talent of their players. Talent that now has unteachable experience heading into the 2010 season. None more important than the experience Jones recieved this year.
All the way into the contest with Stanford, the injury bug was still biting. Sending the final three of what many consider the best defensive line in college ( DE Beal, DT Taylor, DT McCoy) to the sideline. Although McCoy did return after a minor hip-pointer, with so many starters out, Oklahoma could have easily folded up the tents. But the back-ups were ready for the big stage. If injury has an up-side, this was it.
Freshman DT Jamarkus McFarland, a name Sooner fans will soon know well, stepped in for the downed Taylor and looked a bit overwhelmed at first, then finished strong, showing why he was considered the 'gem' of Stoops' 09 class.
Even former #1 ranked DT senior DeMarcus Granger looked great in his swan song, considering the extensive nerve damage he had earlier in the year due to a previous back injury. After a troubled past, it was nice to see the 'still strongest' man on the team finish his college career in a good way.
Redshirt freshman DE David King eased the minds of Sooner fans that don't want to see the talented DE Jeremy Beal leave early with what may have been the play of the game. Recognizing a 'switchback' misdirection play to Gerhart (Stanford RB) on a crucial third down late in the game, causing Pritchard (Stanford QB) to throw high, and allowing King to stop the Stanford bruiser from rumbling for a first down, and what most certainly looked like alot more.
Altogether, the Sooner defense held Stanford to just 79 total yards after halftime. Showing their versatility by going to five-down defensive line (even with the injuries), and proving that Coach Venables (OU defensive coordinator) can make the halftime adjustments needed to give OU a chance to win.
While the patched together defensive line was a big part of the win, it was Jones' stellar passing who stole the show. Who earlier in the year was thrust into the spotlight himself due to injury. Twice. Which helped steel the reserve of the freshman, and allowed him start gaining in-game experience that would pay off in the Sun Bowl.
The biggest dividend being his seemingly unstoppable connection with Ryan Broyles. When the OU ground game was stone-walled, it was the 'Jones-Broyles show' that kept Gerhart and crew on the sidelines. The pair torched the Cardinal secondary for 13 receptions (an OU record) and 156 yards, with Broyles also setting a few season records along the way, in receptions (89), and touchdowns (15), most of those with Jones at the helm.
While Broyles is an outstanding talent, it would go untapped if not for the accuracy and poise Jones has developed through long hours of practice. Hours of practice that he could have taken a relaxed approach on. It's a good thing he didn't. Imagine what the Sooners season could have been like if Landry had not been able to step in and play at the level he did?
Not many kids would be able to step in under those type of circumstances and put together a good season, and 261 Cmp. on 449 Att. for 3198 yards, 26 TD's and 14 INT's, and a completion percentage of 58.1 would constitute a good season.
Landry has always looked the part, and now he is playing it. With a bowl win under his belt, a go-to receiver in Broyles returning, and an abundance of talent both already in Norman and on the way (#1 class according scout.com), Jones now has the experience to go along with his hard work, a combination that will help Oklahoma to make a run at number 8.
"....He already works as hard as you can work", beamed Stoops of Landry. That's high praise coming from the OU coach, who holds control over one of the toughest programs in terms of preparation of the game, both physically and mentally.
Like they say, it takes hard work, talent, and more hard work to make it at this level. Landry Jones posseses all three, and now with the full trust of his coaches, the kid from Artesia N.M. has laid the foundation for greatness.
The past has shown that signal callers under Stoops' storied tenure get better with every snap. So far, the present shows that the 'stache' is no exeption to the rule. If the future holds to form, Landry Jones could just be the type of leader to guide the Sooners back to BCS success, and go from good to great.
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