Landry Jones becomes the most winning quarterback in OU history
With all eyes on the Red River Rivalry matchup in Dallas on Saturday, senior quarterback Landry Jones helped orchestrate one of the most dominant wins over archrival Texas since coach Bob Stoops took over the Sooner program.
And when the dust settled in the Cotton Bowl following the 63-21 beatdown by the Sooners, the four-year starting quarterback not only was able to celebrate the tremendous accomplishment of besting the program’s archrival for the third-consecutive time; with the win, Jones (33-9) also earned the right to be called OU’s winningest quarterback.
“It’s hitting me right now,” Jones said. “You look back at all the great quarterbacks, all the great players around this place, and it’s been really fun to be in that company, and God has just blessed me so much to be able to play this game.”
The emotions of a 23-year-old football player erupted so quickly because Jones’ journey to the top hasn’t been without adversity.
During his freshman season, Jones couldn’t find a way to salvage the much-anticipated 2009 season after former quarterback Sam Bradford went down with an injury, forcing Jones to step in and help the Sooner offense recover.
Although OU ended up with five losses, Jones helped atone for the poor regular-season performance by directing the Sooner team to a win over a Stanford team that had future NFL running back Toby Gerhart on the roster.
Jones was also the starting quarterback during the two rare home losses in back-to-back seasons, including the, 41-38, loss to Texas Tech in 2011 and the 24-19 slip-up to Kansas State on Sept. 22 of this year.
But all of those negatives can’t compare with the overall wins record Jones tabbed during a victory over archrival Texas — the win also made him the fourth quarterback in OU’s history to beat the Longhorns in three consecutive games as a starter.
“I got here in 2008, and I never would have thought that I would’ve stayed around this place this long,” Jones said. “It’s really special here, and there is so much tradition around this (program).”
When most teams would give their right arms for a quarterback that has more than 13,000 career passing yards and 101 touchdown passes, the Sooners have gnawed on Jones’ imperfections and inconsistencies.
“I think people don’t understand it takes 11 guys playing cohesively, everybody doing their job,” co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “When you have the turnover we had from a year ago, quarterbacks getting in sync with a wide receiver doesn’t happen overnight.”
Stoops also credited Jones for being able to pull through for the Sooners after receiving continuous criticism following the loss of former wide receiver Ryan Broyles midway through the 2011 season.
“(Jones) unfortunately takes too much of the heat when (the offense) isn’t right and isn’t as good as you want it to be,” Stoops said. “But that’s the nature of a place like this and part of what we’ve built here.”
In the weeks leading up to the Texas Tech game after the disappointing home loss to Kansas State, Jones admitted he received a letter from former OU quarterback — and former wins record holder — Steve Davis that simply gave words of encouragement to the Artesia, N.M., native. The letter also told Jones to keep leading the charge regardless of what happens over the next couple of games.
“He just told me to keep leading those guys, and it was great to hear from a guy who has been in my shoes,” Jones said. “I knew that he had won a couple of national championships, but I didn’t know he was the wins record holder until later.”
But on Saturday, Jones turned those words of encouragement into a decisive win against a then-ranked conference opponent, finishing with 321 passing yards and two touchdowns, his first 300-yard passing game of the 2012 season and 22nd of his career.
There’s no doubt that being the starter under center for a program that is supposed to win national championships every year isn’t the easiest position, but it comes with the territory for anyone playing in a crimson and cream uniform.
“You don’t get too many days like this,” Jones said. “You have to cherish and remember them and always thank God for them.”