Landry Jones set for last game with OU
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Friday, January 04, 2013
1/04/13 at 5:39 AM
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ARLINGTON, Texas - For the 50th and final time, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones has settled into his old, familiar back seat.
Texas A&M freshman Johnny Manziel drives the Cotton Bowl up to Friday's 7 p.m. kickoff at Cowboys Stadium, with his Heisman Trophy riding shotgun.
Jones has passed for 12,949 more yards and 98 more touchdowns in 37 more starts than his Aggies counterpart. He has won three more bowl games and two more conference championships. He owns pages of records.
He does not own a Heisman. And so he does not own the story.
Jones is accustomed to this. He has yielded to teammates like Sam Bradford and Ryan Broyles, to opponents such as Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden, and to critics who measure every mistake against his every accomplishment.
Thus Jones' shoulder shrug when asked about proving himself, one last time.
"The guy on their team won the Heisman, but I don't know if it's necessarily a chip on your shoulder," he said. "It's more you want to go out and you want to compete the way you know you can compete. If he has a great game, he has a great game. I don't really have anything to do with his playing and what he'll do on Jan. 4."
The way Jones sees it, outplaying Manziel in a victory over Texas A&M won't alter much. He has come to grips with his legacy regardless.
"Everybody wants to have that chance to play in the national championship game. Everyone wants to be an All-American. Everyone wants to win the Heisman. But there's only a select few that actually get to do it," Jones said. "Those things were definitely left out on the table for me. I wish I would have accomplished them. Sometimes it just doesn't work out like that...
"I've done some good things. Sure, there are some things I would like to have done, but I didn't get a chance to... For me, I'm just thankful for the opportunity I've gotten to go as far as I have."
It isn't nudging Manziel aside that is important to Jones. It isn't becoming the third quarterback in FBS history to go 4-0 in bowls, or hitting 40 career wins, two landmarks also in play tonight.
It is scoring more points. It is, as he repeatedly says, "playing to the best of my abilities," regardless of the opponent or the stakes.
There's just one hole in Jones' preferred storyline: For OU to beat the Aggies, it is very likely he must be better than Manziel.
"He has seen it all, which concerns us," Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. "That is not always the case. Going into some games, we might be able to do this to this quarterback, or this quarterback hasn't seen this, or throw this up out of a bag of tricks. But he has seen it all. He goes through his reads. He runs the offense extremely well. He manages it.
"He gives them a chance to win."
That has clearly been the case this season. Jones got stronger as his defense weakened through November, which allowed OU to push through toward a Big 12 co-championship. It will likely be the case tonight in what many expect to be a shootout.
The Sooners like their chances.
"In any big game, experience is everything," co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. "I certainly wouldn't trade the experiences Landry has had for anything."
"The numbers tell part of the story," offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. "He is third all-time in passing yards and fifth in touchdowns. He's 3-0 in bowl games. He's 3-0 against what most would consider our biggest rival in Texas. He's 3-1 against Oklahoma State. It's a pretty good list of numbers, but it's only part of the story. He's been resilient when it hasn't gone good. He's won two conference championships.
"People outside of our building can't appreciate what he brings to us every single day, with his approach, his mentality and focus in my meeting room. I'll even take it for granted sometimes. His ability to make adjustments to game plans on the fly, because of the time on task and because he has such a great command of what we're doing...
"I wouldn't trade Landry for anybody right now."
Manziel included, it goes without saying.
This does not make Jones the superior quarterback. It's hard to make that claim when the other guy has a Heisman. But he has been at it three years longer, allowing him to amass superior statistics and a thicker resume.
That has to count for some things, confidence among them. Despite Jones' mistakes, the Sooners still measure him by his accomplishments.
They expect their quarterback has one more in him.
"Johnny Manziel is a great player, and he's had a fantastic year," OU center Gabe Ikard said, "but Landry can throw the ball as well as anybody in the country."
"The kid won the Heisman. Obviously, he's the best player, or that's what people think," said Sooners wide receiver Kenny Stills. "Landry has something to prove, and he'll go out and do that."
"I like ol' Landry's chances of playing well against Texas A&M," Ikard said. "He'll be on top of his game come Friday."
Said Heupel: "I know he's looking forward to going out the right way."
Buy a Landry Jones poster
The Tulsa World has built a Landry Jones poster to celebrate the record-setting career of the OU senior quarterback. See the poster on B4 of today's sports section. The cost is $35. You can buy the page by visiting tulsaworld.com/store or by calling 918-732-8198. The page is only available at 12x21 and is printed in color on high-quality photo paper.
COTTON BOWL: OU VS. TEXAS A&M
7 p.m. Friday • Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas • TV: KOKI-5/23 • Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
Original Print Headline: The last ride for Landry
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Oklahoma's Landry Jones throws the ball under pressure from Texas' Malcom Brown during this season's game in Dallas. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World