The Norman Transcript

October 12, 2011

Heisman help for Landry?

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones should have seen his Heisman Trophy stock rise considerably after the third-ranked Sooners’ 55-17 victory over Texas.

It only makes sense. Jones threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns in the Red River Rivalry, and winning quarterbacks have traditionally gotten a huge bump in national attention after performing well in the game.

“It can be, because it’s a national spotlight, so how media can perceive you can certainly change,” OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said.

Heupel experienced it as a player. He became a legitimate candidate for the award after leading the Sooners to a 63-14 victory over the Longhorns in 2000. Jason White’s campaign, which ended with him becoming the program’s fourth Heisman Trophy winner in 2003, ignited with a stellar performance in the Cotton Bowl.

Even when OU lost to Texas in the 2008 meeting, Sam Bradford’s campaign picked up steam after he threw for five touchdowns in the game.

The door doesn’t just swing the Sooners’ way. Texas’ Vince Young in 2005 and Colt McCoy in 2008 also jumped into the Heisman discussion after the Longhorns’ wins in the Red River Rivalry.

OU coach Bob Stoops believes Jones should receive the same kind of recognition.

“I don’t know why he wouldn’t be up there with anyone after six games,” Stoops said Tuesday. “You look at his numbers, and what he’s done and winning and important games, he’s played great. I would think he’s got every bit as much chance in the last six or seven games as anybody does.”

Jones has thrown for 1,814 yards and 13 touchdowns through five games. But in ESPN.com’s expert poll released Tuesday, Jones was tied for fifth behind Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson, Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore and tied with Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin.

Jones trailed the same group, plus Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, in a recent poll of Heisman voters by stiffarmtrophy.com. Jones was tied for seventh in a poll of 17 Heisman voters by heismanpundit.com.

Some might say the lack of recognition has been due to Sooner opponents. Then again, OU’s won at Florida State and beaten Texas at a neutral site.

“I feel like he’s a Heisman candidate no matter who we play,” Sooner wide receiver Ryan Broyles said. “He’s going to put up numbers against any defense.”

But who a quarterback puts up the numbers against doesn’t seem to matter — at least not yet.

Stanford has played one team that has a winning record — Duke. It will face Washington State (3-2) this week. But Luck entered the season as the presumptive Heisman favorite.

Every other player that seems to be ahead of Jones in the polling has played a huge national television game. The third-ranked Sooners face Kansas at 8:15 Saturday night in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

Jones made a believer out of Texas coach Mack Brown last Saturday. He said Jones played like a Heisman Trophy winner in the Cotton Bowl.

“It’s nice to have that respect from your opponent. Coach Brown has been around football for a long time. For him to say something about me like that is really humbling,” Jones said. “It’s not often you hear a great coach like that say something about you.”

There’s eight more weeks to convince the rest of the country.

John Shinn 366-3536 jshinn@normantranscript.com