Bradford's backup throws OU-record 6 TDs
Game by game, Landry Jones is mastering his role as a stand-in for Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
In just his second career start, Jones threw for 336 yards and set a school record with six touchdown passes, and No. 12 Oklahoma recorded its second straight shutout in a 45-0 win against Tulsa on Saturday.
"It's just kind of wild right now, kind of like you're living a dream," said Jones, who also matched the NCAA record for touchdown passes by a freshman in a single game.
With Bradford watching from the sidelines in a red polo shirt and a white ballcap, Jones knocked him, 2003 Heisman winner Jason White and 2000 Heisman runner-up Josh Heupel out of the top spot in the school record book.
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Ryan Broyles caught a career-high 11 passes for 128 yards and three touchdowns, and Brandon Caleb emerged as a potential second viable target with 104 yards on five catches and two scores.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops marveled at Jones' performance and even gave Bradford trouble about it in the locker room.
"It is kind of ironic how all that happened, but it's pretty neat for him. ... He is really playing well and handling it all, taking it in stride in a really good way," Stoops said.
Even as good as he was, Jones just might lose his job after the record-setting outing. The Sooners' next game is Oct. 3 at Miami, right at the end of the two- to four-week window when Bradford is expected to return from a sprained AC joint in his right, throwing shoulder.
"At this point, I'm just taking every start I can," Jones said. "If Sam comes back versus Miami, that's fine. And if he doesn't, I'm going to step in there and play to the best of my abilities."
Whenever Bradford comes back, he'll be playing opposite a defense that keeps getting stingier. The Sooners have recorded back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1987, Barry Switzer's next-to-last season as coach. That year, Oklahoma did it against North Carolina (28-0) and Tulsa (65-0) in the second and third games of the season.
This shutout of the Golden Hurricane was even more impressive. Tulsa boasted the nation's top offense the last two seasons and hadn't been blanked since 2004 against Navy.
The win also extended the Sooners' winning streak on Owen Field to 26, breaking a school record in existence since 1953. That streak started with Bud Wilkinson's fourth home game as head coach in 1947.
"Sam's a very good player, a great player actually. And we've got confidence in Landry," defensive end Jeremy Beal said. "As a defense as a whole, we feel like no matter who we have, we've got to come out and play great every week."
Jones finished with 336 yards on 25 for 37 passing with two interceptions. His first pass was intercepted after it tipped off of Broyles' hands, but Tulsa went three-and-out and just kept squandering opportunities early. The Golden Hurricane ran 31 of their first 33 plays in Oklahoma territory but came away without a point to show for it.
Tulsa got the ball inside the 15 on two of its first four possessions, only to have quarterback G.J. Kinne turn it over both times. Brian Jackson picked off Kinne's pass into the end zone intended for Damaris Johnson the first time, and Beal forced him to fumble on a sack the second time.
Kinne, making his third career start after transferring in from Texas, also threw an interception late in the first half. Each time, Oklahoma marched the opposite way for a touchdown.
"It's always easy as a team to talk about how you gave the ball up, but there were guys causing those turnovers," said Tulsa coach Todd Graham, who coached from the booth in the first half but returned to the sideline with his team down 31-0 at halftime. "They have a tremendous defensive front and a tremendous advantage there. They will have a defensive advantage over a lot of people."
To make matters worse, Tulsa was without two of its starting offensive linemen.
Kinne completed 12 of 26 passes for 106 yards but got replaced after Oklahoma made it 45-0 with just over 8 minutes left in the third quarter. Jacob Bower and Shavodrick Beaver split the rest of the Golden Hurricane's snaps except one, when Kinne returned and fired a pass directly to Sooners linebacker Travis Lewis, who dropped it.
"I'll tell you how good I think their defense is," Graham said. "That's the first time as a head coach I've been shut out - ever. ... I can't say enough good about their defense."
Caleb got behind the defense for a 63-yard touchdown catch, twice stiff-arming Kenny D. Sims as he raced down the Sooners sideline to make it 17-0. DeMarco Murray followed that with a 13-yard score, spinning twice along the same sideline before leaping for a frontward flip into the end zone.
Broyles scored the Sooners' final three touchdowns, twice catching short passes and then knifing his way through the defense and then getting open deep for a 36-yard TD pass.
That one pushed Jones past the previous school record set by Heupel twice in 2000 then matched by White three times and Bradford five times.
"I've always felt like I could be a really good football player," said Jones, who remained in the game until the Sooners' final possession started with 95 seconds left. "Right now, I still haven't proven much. I've only started, what, two games now?"