No. 6 Oklahoma upended by No. 15 K-State
NORMAN, Okla — Late in the fourth quarter with Kansas State trying to run out the clock and get out of town, Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein gained 5 yards when he needed 3.
On the other side of the field, Oklahoma never quite did get what it needed from its quarterback.
So it goes this season for Oklahoma and its record-setting quarterback Landry Jones. So it went Saturday night in a 24-19 loss to Kansas State where Jones continued his climb up the NCAA passing charts and entrenched himself further into the OU record book.
Strange, considering he wasn't even the best quarterback on the field.
Klein completed passes when he had to and did it with the style and grace of Magnus ver Magnusson heaving a boulder. And he did it when the Sooners knew it was coming. Klein ran straight ahead when Oklahoma knew that was coming, too.
But Jones? It wasn't supposed to be like this. Game after game in this short season of 2012, Jones has withered and shrunk away from the quarterback he used to be — the guy who used to put up prolific numbers, touchdown passes and wins. He'll leave Oklahoma as the school's all-time leader in wins, passing yards, passing touchdowns and passing attempts, but people will have to be reminded he did all that.
"It's the little things," Jones said after admitting this game was on him, saying he played terrible and saying he had to get better.
However, it's not the little things with Jones. It never has been. It's the big things. The glaringly obvious things.
Saturday was just another example. While the Sooners gave up crucial yards to Klein when it mattered most and fumbled on the way into the end zone in the first half, it was Jones who was directly responsible for a Kansas State touchdown when he took a totally preventable sack and fumbled at his own 1-yard line.
Jones was indirectly responsible for another Wildcat score when he threw a back-foot interception well over the head of intended target Kenny Stills. That pass cut off all the Sooner momentum. Seven plays later there was no more Sooner lead when Kansas State went ahead 17-13 early in the fourth quarter.
"It's playing dumb football," Jones said of the loss. "Me especially. There was a lot of different plays I didn't make that I needed to to be successful."
In addition to the stat sheet blunders, Jones overthrew a wide-open Brannon Green in the first quarter in the end zone and the Sooners settled for three points instead. He was bailed out of a second-quarter interception when K-State's Ty Zimmerman dropped a gimme. And Jones was particularly lucky a third-quarter fumble was reversed and called an incompletion. That certainly would have been more points for K-State, as it would have had the ball inside the OU 10-yard line.
"In this game, typically the team goes how the quarterback goes," Jones said. There's a lot on my shoulders. I can handle it. I must play better. I have to play better for us to be successful."
So, when is that going to happen? Jones is a senior, but he's played with less and less conviction in the last eight games — a span where he has thrown eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions. The Sooners are 5-3 in that stretch. Jones has 21 300-yards passing games in his career, but has just one in the last eight.
He threw 38 touchdowns as a sophomore, 29 as a junior and, so far, just four through three games this season. Yet, improvement was noted from coaches and Jones alike, thanks to time spent in California with quarterback coaching guru George Whitfield during the offseason.
So it goes for a quarterback with so many records, touchdown passes and accolades, yet seemingly still needs to be nurtured, have his hand held and prodded. Jones has never been a leader who shouts and propels his teammates on to greatness, but his numbers have always been good enough, flashy enough and effective enough.
Coach Bob Stoops says it wasn't about Jones — it was about everyone. But don't believe him. It was obvious. Jones took the blame upon himself, and he should have.
"I played pretty terrible," Jones said. "The majority of this game was in my hands. This one was probably on me."
Heading into Saturday night, the Sooners were 14-0 against ranked teams at home since 1999. They were a 15-point favorite against Kansas State. Then again, heading into this season, no one thought Jones was mentally on shaky ground, either.
Stoops said he didn't talk to Jones after the game, said he talked to the entire team instead. But maybe it's time for a heart-to-mind talk. Kansas State players mentioned after the game they felt like they could "spook" Jones. Maybe that happened, like it seemed to a season ago, when Jones imploded in a 44-10 loss at Oklahoma State, throwing two interceptions and fumbling once.
Clearly his decision-making has been questionable, visible in a less-than-inspiring performance at UTEP, at home against Florida A&M and then again Saturday when he could have avoided the sack which resulted in K-State's first touchdown.
"We've got to get rid of the football," Stoops said of the sack and fumble by Jones. "We have to be more responsible."
Stoops went on to say Jones did not play "Very well overall. When you turn the football over, it's going to kill you."
It did Saturday.
"It's extremely frustrating," Jones said. "You want to go out there and play well."
Yeah, that's what Sooner fans have been expecting of Jones for awhile now.