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September 17, 2010
Oklahoma offense finally getting off the ground
Landry Jones has done anything through two games this season, it's proving OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson has the next quarterback to build his offense around in 2010.If Okahoma quarterback
That might have been debatable after Jones suffered a rough first outing against Utah State, completing just 17-of-36 passes for 217 yards and two interceptions.
But the sophomore signal caller bounced back in a big way against nationally ranked Florida State and proved he is a quarterback Wilson can build an offense around.
Jones had the most impressive outing of his young career completing 30-of-40 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. His only turnover on the day was when he dropped back to pass and the ball slipped out of his hands.
For a player who seemed to be pressing too much in his first outing, he was so relaxed throwing the ball against Florida State, the football actually fell out of his hand before he could start his throwing motion.
Jones' relaxed play Saturday removed any doubts about whether he could help rebuild an OU offense which struggled in so many key situations a year ago.
"He looked a little rushed the first game, a little out of rhythm," said Wilson. "He looked a little more in sync, which was nice. Both games, he's managed the ball really well as far as his decision-making. He was very calm. His body language, his demeanor - you could tell he was very comfortable."
"He did some things better. He made some smarter decisions but I think guys around him played at a higher level too," added quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel. "It's all those things together but we need to just keep pushing and preparing the way he has prepared and hopefully good things will happen."
In the opener, Jones was uneasy, not steady and he definitely had issues trusting his offensive line to provide protection. But against Florida State, Jones settled in to the pocket and made big plays down the field to multiple receivers.
Against Utah State, Jones completed passes to five different players. Against Florida State, twelve different players caught passes from the OU quarterback.
Biletnikoff Award candidate, Ryan Broyles was the leader in receiving categories in both games, and he remains Jones' most viable target. But the emergence of senior Cameron Kenney (4 catches for 73 yards and one touchdown) and two touchdown passes to tight end targets suggests Jones is finally shedding the security blanket known as Broyles.
"Kenny Stills, Dejuan Miller and Cameron Kenney are three guys kind of collectively playing as one or two bodies," said Wilson. "We need those guys to complement Ryan."
While Jones continues to progress in the passing game, Wilson is concentrating on all the little things which will make the offense more effective, and in turn, make Jones more effective.
Developing a new fullback in true freshmen Trey Millard along with tight ends in James Hanna and Trent Ratterree are things Wilson believes will get the offense back to the performance levels of 2008, when Oklahoma last played for the national championship.
"In two games, Trey Millard does not look like a freshman," said Wilson. "He looks like a guy that's been here a couple years.
"James Hanna played really well. Not just because he had that one catch, but he blocked really well. Trent can do a little better there."
If Jones continues finding receivers, the hope is the OU offense can become more multiple, as they were in 2008 with Jermaine Gresham as a tight end/receiver. With Demarco Murray in the backfield playing a hybrid running back/receiver, that gives Jones the ability to line up under center as a power team, or take the snap out of the shotgun formation as a spread team - all without changing personnel.
Millard can be a part of that grouping as a fullback/receiver/tight end.
And it will allow the Sooners to keep defenses off-balance, as they did in 2008.
"If we substitute to show you different looks, then we have to slow down and defenses have the time to match up. If we don't substitute, we can go from the spread to big guys that move around," explained Wilson. "And that can really cause some alignment issues for the defense. A year ago, we lost our big personnel grouping. We're trying to get back to having some of that in our package."
The key for Oklahoma's run back to championship form is in their ability to continue building this offense brick-by-brick. They've got Jones in the fold, now it's time to see the offensive line, tight ends and fullbacks come along for the ride.
The fans may feel great about Oklahoma's offense after watching them demolish Florida State. But according to Wilson, the work is just beginning.
"The best teams that we have been a part of have continued to grow. One good outing doesn't make that a really good offense," said Wilson. "But now we have a little more confidence and more assertiveness that we can build on. A week ago I was concerned after the first game because I didn't see some confidence. That's what we're trying to build on. There's a lot of work we need to do to keep moving."