Oklahoma's QB Landry Jones wants to win the national championship
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
8/28/12 at 4:38 AM
NORMAN - Landry Jones was asked - before fall camp hit full speed earlier this month - what his focus was for Oklahoma's 2012 football season.
The senior quarterback didn't hesitate with his answer.
"It's going after that national championship," Jones said. "We've had some success around this place. With me at quarterback, we haven't yet been able to get to that big game. We've had some stumbles usually in the regular season that keeps us from that.
"I think that's a stepping stone that I want to take and I want to be able to accomplish in my career."
The first test will be Saturday's season opener at UTEP. Game time is 9:30 p.m. at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
Jones has been a leader during his time as a starter. In his fifth and final season (he redshirted in 2008), his teammates say he's stepped things up a notch after turning down an opportunity to enter the NFL Draft after his junior campaign.
"We respect Landry," senior punter Tress Way said. "He carries the most respect in our locker room because he's that good of a team leader. We don't expect anything extra out of him. How competitive he is and how much care he has shows day in and day out. He's constantly speaking up in our team meetings."
How does he push other guys?
"He'll be the first to say my bad on a bad pass. He'll also be the first to say we can't be dropping balls if a receiver drops a ball; that's about the best way I can put it," Way said. "He's pushing himself and pushing the team to be better."
"He's really elevated his leadership from last year," said defensive captain David King. "For him to come back and say no to the NFL and the opportunity he had there ... He did that for the guys here. We want it to be real special for him, since it's his last year.
"I wanted to be co-captain with him to learn from him and learn his leadership abilities. I'm excited for him and our offense."
Jones, one of five team captains along with Way, said he doesn't see himself as more vocal.
"I haven't really noticed it much but obviously guys have been noticing it," Jones said. "I think it's just confidence and knowing what you want and setting those expectations."
Jones' job as Oklahoma's starting quarterback not only takes a physical toll. He also needs mental toughness.
Jones is perhaps the most scrutinized player on the field.
Perhaps given too much credit for victories and too harshly pointed out in defeats, critiques come with the territory.
The senior has nabbed multiple school passing records, but becomes an easy target when things aren't going well.
Jones handles that in stride.
"You just have to realize what you are capable of and what you are out there to do and leave everything else kind of off to the side. You have to focus on what you can control," Jones said earlier this month. "Those other outside deals or what people are saying to you ... You have to control your emotions and how you react to things."
OU up next
At UTEP 9:30 p.m. Saturday
Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
Original Print Headline: Jones' focus likely team's focus: No. 1
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391
OU quarterback Landry Jones is interviewed by reporters during OU media day, beneath the Gaylord Memorial Stadium, in Norman. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World