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Oklahoma QB Landry Jones for Heisman? He might deserve an invite with another big game

by Jason Kersey Published: November 29, 2012
OU quarterback Landry Jones, along with tackle Lane Johnson, will participate in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26. PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN
OU quarterback Landry Jones, along with tackle Lane Johnson, will participate in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26. PHOTO BY NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN
NORMAN — Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones has led his team to come-from-behind wins in consecutive fourth quarters, each of which included a last-second scoring drive to either win or force overtime.

Over the two games, Jones racked up more than 1,000 passing yards and nine touchdowns at West Virginia and against Oklahoma State.

The Sooners are 9-2 — with those two losses each coming to top-10 teams — and playing for at least a share of the Big 12 championship Saturday at TCU.

All of this raises a very serious question: Has Landry Jones played his way into deserving an invite to the Heisman Trophy presentation ceremony in New York?

Jones was considered a candidate for college football’s highest individual honor at the beginning of the season, but the Sooners’ two losses and Jones’ performance in them — especially Sept. 22 against Kansas State — effectively dropped him from the discussion.

But is that really fair? His turnovers were a deciding factor against the Wildcats, but he did still throw for 299 yards and lead a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that pulled the Sooners back within one possession with 3:14 left.

Against Notre Dame, Jones was hardly the reason for defeat, and his one interception was the result of a tip, followed by an incredible effort from another Heisman candidate, linebacker Manti Te’o.

Let’s compare Jones with the two quarterbacks currently considered Heisman Trophy favorites, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.

JOHNNY MANZIEL, FR., TEXAS A&M
Season passing:
241-356 (67.7 percentage); 3,047 passing yards; 21 TDs; 7 INTs.
Season rushing:
172 attempts; 1114 yards (6.5 YPC); 17 TDs.
A&M’s wins over current BCS top 25 teams:
1 (Nov. 10 at No. 2 Alabama, 29-24).
MANZIEL IN A&M LOSSES
vs. No. 4 Florida:
23-30; 173 passing yards; 0 TDs; 0 INTs; 17 rushes, 60 yards; 1 TD.
vs. No. 7 LSU:
29-56; 276 passing yards; 0 TDs; 3 INTs; 17 rushes, 27 yards; 0 TD.

Look, I think Johnny Manziel is fantastic and will be exciting to watch for the next few years. But he did not play very well at all in A&M’s two losses, leaving a Heisman candidacy based entirely on one huge win — it was terrific, don’t get me wrong — and a whole bunch of big numbers against SMU (6-6, C-USA), South Carolina State (5-6, FCS), Arkansas (4-8), Ole Miss (6-6), Louisiana Tech (9-3, WAC), Auburn (3-9), Mississippi State (8-4), Sam Houston State (8-3, FCS) and Missouri (5-7).

COLLIN KLEIN, SR., KANSAS STATE
Season passing:
172-258 (66.7 percentage); 2,306 passing yards; 14 TDs, 6 INT.
Season rushing:
171 attempts; 787 yards (4.6 YPC); 20 TDs.
KSU’s wins over current BCS top 25 teams:
2 (Sept. 22 at No. 11 Oklahoma, 24-19; Nov. 3 vs. No. 23 Oklahoma State, 44-30).
KLEIN IN KSU’S LOSS
at unranked Baylor:
27-50; 286 passing yards; 2 TDs; 3 INTs; 17 rushes; 39 yards; 1 TD.

Collin Klein has been dinged up of late, and could completely re-emerge as a strong frontrunner if Kansas State convincingly beats Texas on Saturday to claim a Big 12 title. But frankly, his overall 2012 numbers aren’t extremely impressive. The best argument for Klein is the difference he makes for his team; no way would Kansas State have ever been in the national-title discussion without him.

LANDRY JONES, SR., OKLAHOMA
Season passing:
310-467 (66.4 percentage); 3,745 passing yards; 27 TDs; 9 INT.
Season rushing:
13 attempts; (-103) yards; 0 TDs.
OU’s wins over current BCS top 25 teams:
2 (Oct. 13 vs. No. 18 Texas, 63-21; Nov. 24 vs. No. 23 Oklahoma State, 51-48).
JONES IN OU’S LOSSES
vs. No. 6 Kansas State:
28-43; 299 passing yards; 1 TD; 1 INT; a fumble into the end zone, which was recovered for a KSU touchdown.
vs. No. 1 Notre Dame:
35-51; 356 passing yards; 0 TD; 1 INT.

Landry Jones clearly underwhelmed in the Sooners’ two losses. But compare his numbers in OU’s losses to Manziel’s in A&M’s defeats. All four losses were at home and to current top-10 teams in the BCS standings. Jones, of course, is prone to head-scratching turnovers. Even in each of the two most recent games, when his performances have been magnificent overall, he’s thrown one wild interception.

Bottom line: I’m not at all arguing that Jones should win the thing.

But if he beats TCU with the same kind of numbers he’s put up the last two weeks, this Heisman Trophy voter is going to have a tough time leaving Landry Jones off my ballot.

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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