EL PASO, Texas — Landry Jones today reaches the end of his rollercoaster rookie year, in the Sun Bowl, where the desert meets the mountains. Fitting for a quarterback whose glory so consistently met disgrace.
An Oklahoma record six touchdown passes against Tulsa. Five interceptions at Nebraska. Pristine performances at Owen Field. Poor play outside the 405. Such an erratic season has raised questions about Jones’ future. Is he the next Sooner star quarterback or a stopgap until a hero arrives? Victory over Stanford in the Sun Bowl would empower Jones’ re-election campaign. Jason White and Sam Bradford won Heisman trophies but nary a bowl game, going 0-4 combined. Any Sooner quarterback who delivers a bowl win will rise quickly in public opinion polls. If you don’t believe it, just remember the only OU QB since Nate Hybl with a bowl victory. Rhett Bomar. Bomar was MVP of the 2005 Holiday Bowl; he completed 17 of 30 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown in OU’s 17-14 upset of Oregon. Bomar’s performance wiped out a mediocre redshirt freshman season and ignited optimism for the future. Before Bomar’s unfortunate demise with NCAA rule-breaking, I thought he was headed for stardom. So I have a question for myself: why haven’t I had the same thoughts about Jones? Bomar in 2005 and Jones in 2009 were quarterbacks in similar circumstances. A struggling (by OU standards) team. Shaky offensive line. Decimated receiving corps. OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said, "Neither one of them had as great a supporting cast as Sam” Bradford, another redshirt freshman starter, in 2007. "So the quarterback really looks well when the supporting cast and everyone is better.” And Jones clearly has played better than did Bomar. Not a lot better, but better. Jones has completed 58 percent of his passes; Bomar completed 54.2. Jones has 23 touchdowns and 13 interceptions; Bomar was 10 and 10. Jones’ quarterback rating is 129.25; Bomar’s was 113.48. Bob Stoops said that without studying statistics, Jones’ season mirrors Bomar’s.