TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Measured statistically, with nothing more than a casual glance at the box score, this was your typical Landry Jones road performance. If you pulled it up on your smartphone, you would have thought Oklahoma got a coveted signature road win despite Jones, not in part because of him.
Numbers are funny that way, though. They're so stark, failing to paint the picture of the intricacies of a game such as the top-ranked Sooners' do-what's-necessary 23-13 victory Saturday night at No. 5 Florida State.
Jones' line – 18 for 27 for 199 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions – says he was average, at best. But that's like reading the Cliffs Notes for Macbeth and saying you came to understand the complex beauty of Shakespeare's prose.
Jones did not win the Heisman on Saturday. Not by any means. But he did not lose it, either. In fact, he had one of those “moments” pundits are always squawking about as resume builders.
The situation: Third-and-12. Own 40-yard line. Seven minutes, 20 seconds to go. Opponent tied the game for the first time on the previous possession. Its crowd as loud as it had been, literally, in decades.
All that, and the junior reacted coolly, calmly. If quarterbacking doesn't work out, perhaps Jones could have a career in hostage negotiating.
He stood in with the FSU rush in his face and delivered a strike to Ryan Broyles on a post route, in the middle of the field. Sure looked like Jones' best throw of the day, and he said as much afterward.
When I picked apart the ever-so-slight flaws for Jones in the Tulsa game, I made the point that there are throws a big-time quarterback – like Jones is purported to be - absolutely has to make. Well, that was one of those throws. Jones was on target at the most important juncture in the game. Who knows what happens if that ball sails high or wide and Tress Way punts the ball back to an FSU team that had all the momentum in a 13-13 game? Maybe that just caused you to shiver. It was getting away. That throw got it back.
The play to Broyles went to the FSU 37-yard line, and then the Sooners rushed to the line to get off the snap. That's key to note, because OU really had been knocked out of its desired rhythm by Florida State's toughness and aggressiveness. Both defenses dictated play in the game, and that certainly came as a surprise to me – and, no doubt, a lot of people watching the game.
Bob Stoops said Jones made a good throw to Kenny Stills on the touchdown pass, only to backtrack seconds later and correct himself to say it was actually underthrown. Even Stoops couldn't put any sunshine PR spin on that ballooned toss. But, you know, Jones still put the ball up where Stills, about a half-foot taller than corner Greg Reid, could go up and make a catch.
There is the matter of the two turnovers, two more interceptions than the Sooners would ever want from Jones. Two more than Jones would want from Jones. We've got to talk about that.
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