MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Landry Jones was calm and collected Saturday against West Virginia.
And his private quarterback builder, George Whitfield Jr., absolutely loved it.
“He was strong in all phases,” Whitfield said of Oklahoma's fifth-year senior quarterback. “He threw strikes, and he moved his receivers up and around.”
But this is the Landry Jones that so many Oklahoma fans have come to know.
The one who throws an interception at least every game. The one who toys with triple coverage. But always the guy who never rides the wave.
However, we in the media ride him for it. His performance against Baylor? Meh. It wasn't anything inspiring. Nothing, as they say, to write home about. His performance weeks and weeks ago against Kansas State? Headline worthy — in a bad way.
Then came Oklahoma's first game in Morgantown where the gunslinger went 38-of-51 for 554 yards and six touchdowns. Just one interception.
That's the Landry Jones who goes high in the NFL Draft.
But during Saturday's fourth quarter, where Oklahoma and West Virginia scored on nearly every drive, there was Jones.
Calm and collected.
During the postgame interviews, freshman wide receiver Sterling Shepard talked about how cool and relaxed Jones was while the rest of the team was on upset alert.
When The Oklahoman telephoned Whitfield after the game and asked what he thought about Jones' best performance, he said, “He was who he has always shown that he is.”
“He's a big-time quarterback that played like it,” he said. “He's all the things you'd expect from a big-time performer. There's certain expectations your team should have and security your team should feel from your quarterback. That's what Landry brought.”
Jones threw touchdown passes for 4, 76, 4, 11, 7 and 5 yards. And that 76-yarder quickly built steam when junior wide receiver Jalen Saunders found an open opportunity to run. Jones also gave the Sooners key yards, especially when OU coach Bob Stoops watched his prized short-yardage package, the Belldozer, get stopped.
During the opening drive of the game, Stoops called for backup quarterback Blake Bell on second-and-3 from the 4-yard line. Bell had no gain, and the very next play, to the shock of OU fans, Jones was back in for a red zone third down. He threw a touchdown pass to Trey Millard to open the game.
Bell ended the night 2-for-5, and Whitfield exalted Jones' red zone performance via Twitter.
“Wow. You can score TDs leaving Landry Jones at QB inside the red zone? Pretty cool. ...”
Whitfield explained his tweet to The Oklahoman.
“I was excited for his opportunity in the red zone,” Whitfield said. “He had two touchdown passes in the red zone. He anticipated Oklahoma's previous red zone protocol and prepared for it.”
What Whitfield is referring to is when Jones called an audible on the Sooners' last drive of the game, sending wide receiver Kenny Stills from a fade rout to a slant, a change that resulted in a game-winning touchdown.
“There's no telling what his stats or Oklahoma's success would have been if he had those opportunities all the time,” Whitfield said.
But you won't hear a peep from Jones about his lack of red zone opportunities besides his typical “competitive guys like to be competitive all the time” answer.
Nope, there are still no blips on the radar of Jones' football composure. Four years later, his best performance of his career came from his calm, collected demeanor under chaos.