Baptism by fire: OU’s Jones picks apart Texas

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Jesus Christ.

Nope, just Landry Jones.

There are other reasons why the Longhorns were flattened Saturday. Where was the pass protection? What was with the odd penchant for calling reverses and sweeps that turned second-and-short into third-and-long? Also — here we go again — why so few offensive touches for D.J. Monroe?

But this latest installment of the Red River Rivalry was all about Jones. Texas couldn’t keep up with him or his pass-catching mates Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills. The 367-yard, three-touchdown day was the perfect endorsement for Jones’ Heisman campaign, an award he should now be the frontrunner for. The leader of the No. 3 Sooners proved that OU really is QB-U and that he could very well be the best to don the crimson and cream.

And hey, for a school that’s had Sam Bradford and Jason White, that’s a pretty elite status.

“He was as good as anybody in the country today,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He did a tremendous job. I told him that after the game.”

We thought if the Longhorns could get after Jones, they could rattle him, much like Florida State did a couple weeks ago. Jones was horrendous in Tallahassee, throwing two interceptions in the face of pressure.

So Texas brought blitz after blitz, trying to get in the quarterback’s grill. What Would Jones Do?

Pick and flick.

“The whole key was that you had to mix things up,” said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. “To his credit, when we played man, when we played zone, when we went back and forth, brought pressure and didn’t bring pressure, he did a good job of managing the down and getting the ball into the playmakers’ hands.”

There might not be a more perfect example of Jones’ brilliance than a third-and-25 in the second quarter. From his own 35-yard line, Jones stepped up in the pocket to avoid the pass rush and then threw a ball with just enough air under it to prevent Quandre Diggs from batting it down, with such perfect placement that OU receiver Jaz Reynolds hardly had to adjust to catch the ball. Three plays after the conversion, Oklahoma found itself in another third-down situation. W.W.J.D? Jones found Broyles for a touchdown to make the score 20-3.

You could say Texas’ offense lost it this game. One total touchdown — a last-ditch pass — and 259 total offensive yards, to go with three turnovers that went for defensive touchdowns, is pretty dismal. But even if Case McCoy and David Ash had played the way they had in the previous weeks and Malcolm Brown had had some daylight, this one still might not have been close. There’s no way Texas was going to put up 40-plus on the Sooners, which it would have had to done in order to match every OU score.

The game became a one-sided shootout, and the Longhorns were out of it by halftime. If you’re looking for a positive, it’s that the team should be more experienced when the Cowboys roll into Austin this weekend, with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon and the rest of the men in that offense.

“I think our players will watch film, and there will be things that we will see that we had in hand,” Diaz said. “They are really good players, and they played an outstanding game today, but we probably didn’t make it as hard on them as we maybe should have. You just go back and fix your defense.”

Jones might not be the last to carve up the Longhorns this season, but he was the first. And it’s tough to figure there’s anybody out there much better than him.  

Printed on October 10, 2011: "Jones crushes Texas defense, puts up a fight for Heisman"