NORMAN — Bob Stoops has long been one of his quarterback's most vocal supporters.
Monday, though, responding to another question about Oklahoma fans who don't share his fondness of Landry Jones, Stoops was especially unrelenting toward the fifth-year senior's critics.
“People aren't very intelligent about football,” Stoops said. “I'm not criticizing them; it's not what they do. ... People, whatever occupation they are, it's just like me trying to do what they do. They'd probably scoff at that.”
Jones finished Saturday's 30-13 loss to Notre Dame having completed 35 of 51 passes for 356 yards. He didn't throw a touchdown pass and had a fourth-quarter pass intercepted while the Sooners were on a potential game-tying drive.
“Landry's a great quarterback and had a heck of a night the other night,” Stoops said. “Without Landry, we're not in that game.”
Jones wasn't perfect Saturday, but he certainly wasn't the reason Oklahoma lost. Notre Dame's offense successfully kept Jones off the field with long, time-consuming drives in the second and third quarters, and the OU run game never got going.
On the Sooners' first drive, Jones led them to three quick first downs, appearing to put Notre Dame's defense on its heels. But a miscommunication led to center Gabe Ikard sending a first-down snap to no one while Jones tried to check the play; OU lost 19 yards on the botched play and any early momentum was halted.
“That snap with Gabe was a big miscommunication,” Jones said, “and once we got down there to a place where we kicked two field goals ... we needed to score touchdowns. When you play a good team like Notre Dame or Kansas State, you have to score touchdowns when you get opportunities.”
While the Sooners were losing to Notre Dame and having any chance at the national championship destroyed, Kansas State was whipping Texas Tech, tightening its grip on the Big 12 Conference lead.
With the Wildcats' toughest Big 12 games already won — including their Sept. 22 win in Norman — it seems increasingly unlikely Oklahoma will win the conference title.
So with national and conference title hopes fading, what are the new goals for the Sooners and their much-maligned senior quarterback?
For one, Oklahoma remains in line for an at-large berth in a BCS bowl game if it can avoid losing again. A two-loss Sooner team — with those losses coming to teams both ranked in the current BCS standings' top three — would be mighty appealing to bowl executives.
“I don't think we're going to shut it down and call it quits for the rest of the year,” Jones said. “There is some adversity that comes with losing games and having different goals out of the picture.
“But we're a prideful program and we have a lot of pride in what we do. ... We're absolutely excited and still have a goal of playing in a BCS game.”
For Jones, OU's starter since he was a redshirt freshman replacing Sam Bradford, winning the rest of his games at Oklahoma would go a long way toward improving his legacy.
It's remains to be seen how Jones will be remembered, despite owning every major OU passing record.
His prolific numbers haven't and — barring an unprecedented collapse of the 11 teams currently ranked higher than OU — won't produce a national championship.
“I was proud of him,” Stoops said. “I thought he played really well. I think he played great.
“I don't get (the fan criticism). I don't understand it.”