Norman — Landry Jones admitted there was a different feeling to the first day of spring practice. He’d been through spring drills before, but nothing like what he went through Monday.
“It felt different today taking all the snaps with the ones than it did taking them with the twos,” he said.
Jones doesn’t expect that to change even though he refuses to call himself Oklahoma’s starting quarterback.
To him, Monday’s practice and the following 14 over the next few weeks will make that decision. He and Drew Allen, a freshman who redshirted last season, are neck-and-neck heading into the spring. The job is still very much up for grabs.
Earning it is an important thing.
Jones didn’t really get that chance last season. Even though he threw for 26 touchdowns and 3,198 yards, it was still Sam Bradford’s shoulder injury that put him in that position.
The job fell to him when Bradford fell on his right shoulder against BYU and again against Texas.
“It was Sam’s last year. I earned the backup job last year; that’s all I really earned,” he said. “This spring, I’m still trying to go out and earn that starting spot.”
All indications are he will.
OU coach Bob Stoops believes Jones took huge steps toward the end of last season. He helped lead OU to victories over Oklahoma State in the regular-season finale and Stanford at the Sun Bowl. His progression looks even better against the constant backdrop of injuries to his offensive line and receivers.
“I think as the season went along, he got a lot more comfortable, which is natural. The more snaps you get, the more experience you get and the more help you’re getting,” Stoops said. “It all resulted in pretty positive play.”
The key is building on last season. Jones showed he could make all the throws. He’ll spend this spring attempting to prove he can make all the right decisions.
It was the one area when Jones struggled. He threw 14 interceptions last season. He was still tentative, especially away from home. Yet he closed very well.
“I feel like I have confidence going into the spring,” he said. “I had some shaky games last season, but I also had some good ones. I’ve built some confidence from the good games I’ve had and I know I can get it done out there.”
Jones might have felt confident last spring, too, but experience could not have been his guide. Now it can be.
“Instead of going into this year not knowing what’s it like to play, he knows what it’s like to play,” offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said. “Hopefully his preparation will now match.”
John Shinn 366-3536 firstname.lastname@example.org