Oklahoma football: How Landry Jones and Co. bailed out the Sooner defense
COMMENTARY — A defense that Mike Stoops was supposed to fix made its embarrassing performance a year ago in Waco look tame. This was a Sooner defense at its historic worst. But Oklahoma beat West Virginia 50-49 because Landry Jones was at his best when it counted most.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bob Stoops' voice was gone, and his pride all but went with it.
But Stoops was happy. He had seen this game before, with a different ending, and this was better. Much, much better.
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The Sooners beat West Virginia 50-49 Saturday night in the Allegheny Mountains, and it's not as crazy as it sounds.
It was crazier.
This was Baylor II, that wild game in Waco last November that knocked OU from national title contention and hastened a change in Stoops' defensive staff.
Except this time, the Sooners had the ball last. Which in this kind of game, made all the difference.
“Very proud of the players, their efforts,” Stoops said. “Incredibly proud of the team to hold it together.”
The Sooners won despite the worst defense in school history. But they won because Landry Jones earned his stripes.
Landry took the Sooners on two touchdown drives in the final seven minutes, with precision passing and clutch decision-making. Landry's fourth-down, five-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills – Landry's sixth TD throw of the game, Stills' fourth TD catch – with 24 seconds left was the game-winner.
Stoops was so fired up about the win, he didn't even try to defend his defense. So you know it was bad.
“I'm obviously disappointed,” Stoops said. “We haven't been in a lot of shootouts. We deserve some of the criticism for not playing as well, but again, they're a good team.”
Maybe a great offensive team. But not as great as the 2011 Baylor Bears, who stunned OU 45-38 with a Heisman Trophy-winning performance from Robert Griffin III. West Virginia's Geno Smith is a fallen Heisman contender, but his offense carved up the Sooners much more than did Griffin's.
The numbers were ugly. The school of Larry Lacewell and Gary Gibbs and Rex Ryan and, yes, Mike Stoops, on Saturday night allowed 778 total yards, obliterating the previous opponents' record of 616 set last year by Baylor.
West Virginia had four touchdown drives longer than 90 yards; six longer than 77 yards.
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