Oklahoma's Landry Jones heads into another stiff road test after a record-setting performance on Saturday against Iowa State when he completed 30-of-34 passes for 334 yards and three touchdowns. But Jones now commands the nation's No. 1 team in the BCS rankings when he leads the Sooners into Columbia against Missouri. Can the offense sustain the momentum heading on the road?
Q: Landry, could you comment on Missouri's defense? Clearly, they're playing better than anyone expected, and they may get their best player back too. Jones: They're going to be a really good defense, they do a lot of different things. They play well together, they fly around ad they have some athletic pass rushers. So, it's going to be a real challenge for us.
Q: Has Coach Heupel examined your four incompletions from Saturday night? Jones: Yeah (laughing), we went over that on Sunday. We got that all taken care of.
Q: Some people have mentioned, and players too, that they've noticed a difference in you over the last couple of games. They say is seems like you're playing with so much confidence. When you look at yourself on tape, have you seen that and have you felt that? Jones: Yeah, I felt like the last couple of games I've played well, but there are still some parts of the game that I need to work on. There's a couple of accuracy issues that I need to work on. We're still pushing, we're still trying to get better every day.
Q: The last two times you've gone on the road, you suffered some glitches in the fourth quarter. How did you learn from those glitches? Jones: Well, the glitches you're talking about are the interception against Cincinnati and the fumble against Texas. On the interception, I was rolling out to my right and I tried to throw back across my body to Ryan (Broyles). That's something you can't do, everybody is too fast at this level. On the fumble, it was one of those things where the play was messed up from the beginning. I rolled out the wrong way, and then tried to reverse back into the play. Usually, I just go down, eat the ball, and try and run out the clock.
Q: You're getting ready to go into a hostile environment. Do you take those experiences with you and learn from them? Jones: Absolutely, going into someone else's house, it's always going to be hard to communicate to your offensive line. It's going to be a hostile environment and turnovers are going to be huge in those types of games. So, we can't turn the ball over. We have to protect the ball and I have to make the right decisions to get us into good situations.
Q: What about the change of pace that Roy Finch offers, it must be fun to watch him on tape? Jones: Yeah, he's a great player. He's really shifty, side-to-side. It's hard to find him behind our big offensive line. It's a good shift from Demarco (Murray) to Mossis (Madu) and Jeremy (Calhoun). Now you have Brennan (Clay) and Roy (Finch) back there. We have a lot of running backs who can play out here. It's a good competition between all of them, and they all have different things that they do well.
Q: I noticed, a couple times in the game, where you had to tell Roy where to line up. Obviously, he's still learning the offense. Jones: Yeah, he's still learning. Remember, he got injured at the end of two-a-days, so he didn't get to practice much. He's really still learning the offense and things like that. Sometimes you have to tell him where to line up, but once you tell him, he knows what he's supposed to do and he gets the job done.
Q: Speaking of Roy, you guys have added some nice components to your offense over the last two games. Against Texas, you broke out that wrinkle with Trey Millard. Then on Saturday you guys inserted Roy. How different is this offense, now as opposed to when you guys came out against Utah State? Jones: Well, Utah State was our first game. We struggled a little bit, but we learned from it. We came out against Florida State and played well. So, we're still learning, as an offense, how to play. Plus, we have a lot of young players. They're learning how to play too, and they're getting better every game.
Q: But it seems like you have much more options now? Jones: Oh yeah, absolutely. We have a lot of different guys who can play all kinds of different positions. We can move them around and stretch the defense. We can put Trey in the back field, or we can line him out with everyone else in the spread-set. We have a lot of special players here, and it's really cool to see.
Q: Can you remember the last time your offense got a holding or false start call? Jones: No, I can't remember.
Q: It was the second quarter, against Air Force. That stuff can go unnoticed real quick, but can you talk about how different they are this year and how big of a role they've played in the success you guys have had? Jones: That's one thing that killed us last year. Once we'd get down to the red zone, we'd get a penalty and all of the sudden it would be 1st-and-15. That stuff is hard to overcome. Once you get ahead of the chains on someone it's a lot easier to play at 3rd-and-2 or 3 rather than 3rd-and-long. Then, it's obviously a passing situation and that puts a lot of stress on the offensive line. They've been doing a great job (this year). I can't say enough about my offensive line right now.
Q: It seems like the biggest difference, on the road this year, is the way you guys have run the ball. Jones: Yeah, I mean look at how many yards we had against Iowa State. I think we had 300 rushing and 300 passing, that's pretty balanced there. It's hard to defend that once you have the run-and-pass going at the same time. I'm really proud of those guys, they're a tough bunch of guys. There are a lot of good players up there. They're moving people off the ball, up there, and making holes for Demarco and them.
Q: When you went on the road last year, you knew that if you were to move the ball then you'd have to shoot it through the air. How different is it, knowing that you can turn around and hand it off at any time this year? Jones: That's huge. This is a physical game and the one thing that can beat a defense is you running the ball. If you do that, you have a pretty big advantage on them. They don't know whether you're using the play-action or going deep. It softens up the passing game. So, that's a huge thing for us, we will have to run the ball against these guys.
Q: You've never looked more comfortable, to me, than you were last weekend against Iowa State. Now, you're going to play a Big 12 game on the road. Is there a concern that the comfort level you hit won't be there? Jones: When you go on the road there are obviously those things, but that's one thing, as you mature as a quarterback, that you have to start blocking out. When we went to Nebraska, last year, the crowd was going crazy and I could barely communicate with my offensive line. This year, on the road at Cincy and Texas, I felt like we were able to calm ourselves down and understand how to play in a hostile environment. We're still learning and it's going to be a huge challenge going up there. That stadium is going to be crazy and it's going to be a packed house.
Q: Is it important to get going early because of that? Jones: Yeah, it helps an offense when they get going and score on the first drive. It kind of silences the crowd and keeps the momentum on your side.
Q: It's not just that last game, you're accuracy numbers are up from 58 to 68 percent from a year ago. Is there anything that you've worked on to get that up, or is it just a product of you guys playing better? Jones: Last year, I thought I prepared enough for the games, but I was still learning how to do that. At the end of the year, with Oklahoma State and the Sun Bowl, I really learned how to prepare by getting in the film room and knowing my reads like the back of my hand. Being able to play and see defenses has really helped me.