John E. Hoover: OU's Landry Jones delivers another special performance
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Columnist
Sunday, November 25, 2012
11/25/12 at 5:29 AM
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Go to John E. Hoover's blog.Original Print Headline: Jones delivers another special outing for OU
NORMAN - Something has changed about these Cardiac Sooners.
Is that John Elway out there leading Oklahoma in the fourth quarter? Johnny U? Joe Montana?
No. It's Landry Jones.
It was always Landry Jones.
On Saturday, and for the second week in a row, Jones grabbed his teammates by the collar and dragged them down the field for a dramatic comeback victory, this time an unforgettable Bedlam masterpiece that will stand against history like all those statues and plaques and trophies outside Memorial Stadium.
Jones never had a fourth-quarter comeback victory. Now he has two in two weeks.
Last week Jones beat West Virginia with a couple of fourth-quarter touchdown drives, the last one ending on a fourth-down pass into the end zone with 24 seconds left.
This time, Jones beat rival Oklahoma State - and maybe exorcized some orange demons - with an equally stirring performance on the game's final drive that sent the Sooners to a 51-48 overtime victory.
"What more do you want from the guy?" Bob Stoops asked.
Well, how about a winning lottery ticket?
Can he deliver a Texas victory over Kansas State next week in Manhattan?
Oh well. Sooner Nation would certainly settle for one more victory next week at TCU, a runner-up share of the Big 12 Conference championship and an at-large berth in a BCS game.
After these last two efforts, that'd be plenty.
Jones completed 46-of-71 passes (both OU records) for 500 yards and three touchdowns. Last week he was 38-of-51 for 554 yards and six TDs.
"The guy throws for a thousand yards in the last two games," OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "That's virtually unthinkable. He's a special guy.
"He's carried us on his back."
Jones always put up big numbers. But somewhere along the way, he became a winner, that quarterback - Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, et al - who's never out of a game.
Last week he directed two epic scoring marches, completing 9-of-10 passes. This week, it was just one, and he went 10-of-13.
In Sooner lore, Jones' last performances are all but unmatched. These are the kind of things Barry Switzer's wishbone wizards used to do to Nebraska - Sooner Magic, they called it. Not many of Oklahoma's passing QBs under Bob Stoops have had these opportunities, and almost none have finished them.
Yes, West Virginia's defense was awful. And certainly, OSU's wasn't much better. But all those Sooner fans who've decried Jones as incapable of pulling victory out of the grip of defeat ever since he almost hyperventilated against BYU in 2009 should now stand and applaud.
"It didn't just start last week," Bob Stoops said. "Our guys know how good Landry is and how well he throws the ball, which always gives you a chance for big plays and to score quickly. ... What would not make you think he was able to come in and do it?"
Well, for starters, Jones' previous three possessions, the ones before he took his team 86 yards in 17 plays to put Blake Bell in position to run for the game-tying touchdown. On those three possessions, Jones completed just 6-of-17 passes for 80 yards and was dropped for his only sack of the night.
Oklahoma State led 45-38 before that drive - for that matter, the Cowboys never trailed the entire night.
But Jones was unaffected.
"It takes a special leader," said offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel. "Your quarterback's got to be a special player. I think people around here are seeing that."
Said running back Brennan Clay, "We know we can count on him. ... He's strong-willed and he's determined."
Last year's 44-10 loss in Stillwater was maybe Jones' worst game. Two inexplicable turnovers handed the Cowboys 14 points, and Oklahoma went in the dumper. So Saturday, as Sooner Nation stayed in their seats and jumped around and partied long after Clay's determined touchdown run ended it in overtime, Saturday offered Jones a significant measure of redemption.
"It's always good to come out and redeem yourself," he said, "after a terrible loss like that."
Jones' big games the last two weeks elevated him to rare air.
He's now the Big 12's career leader - think about that - in total offense (15,756 yards) and passing yards (16,124, third in NCAA history). He's the first player in NCAA history with 3,000 passing yards and at least 26 TDs in four seasons.
But here's a guy who beat Texas three times as a starter, beat OSU three times, is 3-0 in bowl games and, if the Sooners win next week, will have one Big 12 title and a share of another.
And now he has a pair of clutch fourth-quarter comebacks to his resume.
"A lot of people question his leadership and, you know, say he's not a leader," said wide receiver Kenny Stills. "He's doing stuff like that, it's really easy to follow him."
Oklahoma's Landry Jones throws the ball during their game against Oklahoma State. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World