NORMAN — As NFL scouts, coaches and executives studied former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones throughout the pre-draft months, the offense in which he played and broke records came under some intense, public scrutiny.
Lots of the criticism stemmed from the fact that — for the first time in the Bob Stoops era — Oklahoma lacked a significant tight-end presence. Brannon Green caught the only three passes snagged by the Sooners' true tight ends, not including jack-of-all-trades Trey Millard, who lined up some at tight end but made most of his impact in the backfield.
Asked last week about the criticism, Stoops defended his 2012 offense, saying that the Sooners were greatly inexperienced at tight end and much better with four wide receivers on the field.
“Our best grouping was with wide receivers, which was quite obvious to anybody who watched us,” Stoops said. “Who watched us.”
Jon Gruden, who coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the 2003 Super Bowl title, criticized the Sooners' lack of balance offensively, specifically noting the lack of a tight end presence last season.
Then after the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Jones in the fourth round last month, Trent Dilfer called the OU offense “a joke” and its receivers “brutal.”
Dilfer, who quarterbacked the Baltimore Ravens in their 2001 Super Bowl win, later told ESPN.com the lack of a tight end hurt Jones' ability to learn “a type of football from a quarterback's perspective that's transferrable to the NFL.”
Oklahoma's 2012 tight end situation, though, was a Stoops-era aberration. In 2011, Jones' junior year, tight ends Trent Ratterree, James Hanna and Austin Haywood combined for 43 receptions, 524 yards and four touchdowns. Ratterree and Hanna each graduated, and Haywood left the team.