Landry Jones, calm and collected, might be the one to step up in a leadership role for the Sooners.
By ANDREW GILMANFS Southwest
NORMAN, Okla. — Mike Stoops won Media Day. He did everything from articulate to dominate.
Oklahoma's defensive coordinator talked about heart and desire. Even redemption. Stoops was so passionate, you'd think he was selling Amway.
Stoops has his reasons. A former
Sooners coach before leaving for Arizona for eight seasons, Stoops has an emotional tie to the days when his defense dominated.
Wonder if Landry Jones feels the same?
While Stoops talked of righting wrongs, Jones seems content to mind his business. It's his style. It's the way he carries himself.
And it's time to live with it.
Jones said he isn't going to be concerned about what happened a season ago (
OU went 2-2 in its last four games and also lost at home to Texas Tech) and he certainly wasn't going to be bothered about not being picked as the 2012 Preseason All-Conference quarterback. (West Virginia's Geno Smith got the call.)
If he's got a chip on his shoulder, it must be hidden under his uniform somewhere. We can't see it.
Jones is back for his senior season, set to become the school's all-time leader in wins, and he could even break a number of NCAA passing marks by season's end. He holds more records than a garage sale hipster, but he's not going to wow you with charm, not going to play the role of the "Crazy-Quote Guy" and is going to be about as emotional as a tax seminar.
Time to deal with it.
Before anyone starts to worry about whether he should be this or be that, show more emotion or show a side of himself that may or may not be there, consider Jones is just the next in a line of Sooners quarterbacks under coach Bob Stoops who have excelled on the field but have been about as bland as low-cal melba toast.
Josh Heupel, Nate Hybl, Paul Thompson, Sam Bradford. Only Rhett Bomar expressed any degree of emotion and he was kicked off the team and has had a mixed bag of a career.
"I just want to be the best player I can be," Jones said about what fuels his motivation for 2012. "That's why I came back. That's what I want to do."
It's not the losses in 2011. Not the Bedlam collapse when he was responsible for four turnovers. And certainly not the potential for winning a Heisman or something as petty — to him — as being chosen to the all-conference preseason team.
"Landry's not one of those guys who worries about things like that," OU guard Adam Shead said.
Yeah, but sometimes the rest of us do. On a team lacking leadership, not talent, Jones seems the logical choice to step forward. And maybe he has. We just don't know it, maybe because he doesn't say it or show it. Neither does anyone else.
"I don't think those things matter," Jones said. "Those things are outside of my control and I can't control what goes on outside of what I do and how I play."
A season ago, Jones headed into the year as the All-Big 12 quarterback. He put up numbers that have distanced himself from the rest of OU's quarterbacks on the all-time passing list, throwing for 4,463 yards. He is now nearly 4,000 yards ahead of Bradford on the school's passing list.
Yet, while Jones is content to not have an opinion on West Virginia's Smith being picked ahead of him on the preseason all-conference team, he was at least moved enough to spend part of his offseason working in California with quarterback coaching guru George Whitfield.
What does Jones have to say about that?
"We haven't been able to get to that big game," Jones said of playing for a national title. "That's a stepping-stone I want to take and be able to accomplish in my career."
Undoubtedly he meant it, but expecting him to deliver those words while beating his fists against his chest, is fruitless. It's not going to happen.
"He's calm," Shead said. "That's a great quality. I love that in a quarterback."
Now if Sooner fans can feel the same way, it will be just fine.