Touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio is a statistic used to evaluate quarterbacks. But it's a stat that will lose relevance this season for Oklahoma's Landry Jones.
Ranked as one of the top college quarterbacks in the country, Jones owns most OU passing records. He turned down being a probable first-round pick in the NFL Draft to return for his senior season.
But for Jones to be a Heisman Trophy contender, voters will have to be cognizant of his touchdown totals — and touchdown-to-interception ratio won't dazzle anyone like some QBs who throw for 35 to 40 touchdowns.
Jones threw for 29 TDs last season, 38 his sophomore year and 26 his redshirt freshman year, when he was pressed into duty after reigning Heisman winner Sam Bradford suffered a shoulder injury that sidelined him most of the season.
But Jones could enjoy the best season of his career and still not throw for more than 20 to 25 touchdowns.
Why? The Belldozer package.
During the second half of last season, on most possessions when the Sooners marched near the end zone, backup quarterback Blake Bell trotted onto the field to run a power formation that was an overwhelming success. It was a scheme that helped Bell score a team-high 13 touchdowns despite playing in only seven games.
With the Belldozer playing a key role, dramatically helping the Sooners improve touchdown production in the red zone, it also dramatically reduced Jones' touchdown totals.
Over OU's final four games Jones' TD-to-interception ratio was 1-to-6 — that's one TD pass, six interceptions.
It would be misleading to imply the Belldozer makes it difficult to throw for scores.
In the Belldozer's first two games, Jones threw for seven touchdowns — five in a lopsided win over Kansas State and two in a victory over Texas A&M.
But the Belldozer will lower Jones' TD total if for no other reason it reduces his opportunities, especially TD chances near the goal line.
During his career, Jones has thrown 34 TD passes in goal-to-goal situations, 59 that went for more than 10 yards.
“We're still going to throw the ball down there,” Jones said. “We're still going to work on stuff. We're not going to take it all out. I just need to take care of the ball and focus on not throwing interceptions, not throwing the ball to the other team.”
Jones' interception totals have been 14, 12 and 14 his three seasons as the starter.
Even with the Belldozer package, Jones probably will throw around 20 to 25 touchdowns.
“You like it anytime you score touchdowns,” said Jones, who has endorsed the Belldozer since its inception. “But you also like to throw touchdowns, too, so I hope they don't take it all out.”
Jones broke into a wide smile.
Ask any quarterback, and most will respond that their first priority is to win the game followed by minimizing turnovers. Give a truth serum to a competitive quarterback, and his favorite plays are picturesque TD passes that bring the crowd to its feet.
Jones has experienced that feeling often throughout his career. Jones has passed for a school record 93 touchdowns with 41 interceptions, a solid 2.27-to-1 ratio.
But this season, it will be difficult to match his career TD-to-interception ratio unless he dramatically reduces his interceptions or the Belldozer package isn't as prevalent. That's why the traditional quarterback evaluation statistic won't be as relevant for Jones.
This season, Jones' play should be measured by total yards, completion percentage and, of course, the most relevant stat for any quarterback — wins.
“Landry continues to improve,” said wide receiver Kenny Stills. “He's more confident, more experienced. He's ready to go out and prove everybody wrong. I think everybody is kind of doubting Landry. He wants to show he's an elite quarterback.”
Jones has his critics, but they're in the minority.
Minimizing turnovers always is a priority. But any quarterback that's thrown for more than 12,000 yards and nearly 100 touchdowns has produced countless big plays. But this season, because of the Belldozer, Jones probably will throw fewer TD passes.
Jones' TD passes
Nearly 80 percent of senior quarterback Landry Jones' 93 TD passes were thrown to receivers/tight ends/running backs no longer on OU's roster.
39 Ryan Broyles
13 Kenny Stills
9 James Hanna
9 DeMarco Murray
5 Cameron Kenney
5 Jaz Reynolds
3 Adrian Tennell
3 Trent Ratterree
2 Trey Millard
2 Brandon Caleb
1 Dejuan Miller
1 Trey Franks
1 Chris Brown