3. Confidence and current progress
In his first two starts against Idaho State and Tulsa, along with his second half performance against BYU, Jones has been 49-for-81, good for a 60.1 completion percentage, for 673 yards and 9 touchdowns. Six of those were in his record-setting performance last game against the Golden Hurricane. The only downfall of his first three games has been the susceptibility to toss the occasional interception. He's thrown three picks, two of which were trivial, however, in the game against Tulsa. All of this has contributed to a 159.55 passing efficiency, pretty impressive for a guy coming in under the circumstances he was forced into. So, Jones is riding a confidence high right now. Not only is Jones' confidence soaring, but the rest of the offense is growing more and more trust in him as well.
2. Running game
Aside from Landry's current success, the Sooners have a devastating ground game, if the offensive line can break open some gaps for the backs to run through. OU's running back tandem of shifty back DeMarco Murray and power runner Chris Brown poses all types of problems for opponents. The two last year became the first ever combination of running backs on the same team to both run for more than 1,000 yards. So far, Murray has rushed for 219 yards, while Brown has racked up 197 through three games. If the Sooners can establish the run game, they can beat Miami with Jones at the helm.
1. The stout Sooner defense
This never would have been possible last year with the video game offense the Sooners had. The defense would have had to be perfect to carry the Sooners. But this year, it's different. It's the defense taking charge. The group is much stronger, filled with a ton of veterans, led by junior defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, whereas the offense has suffered the critical injuries and is filled with a ton of youth in crucial positions. Even if Jones has a mediocre game, the defense is good enough to come up with the stops and give OU a chance to win.
Previously, Sooners Illustrated provided the three reasons the Sooners could win without last year's Heisman Trophy winner, OU quarterback Sam Bradford.
Now it's time for the three reasons the Sooners might not be able to get the victory without Bradford.
Three reasons OU could lose with Landry Jones at the helm:
3. Poor decision-making
Jones showed this a couple times in the Tulsa game, including once when he rolled out to the right and tossed a pass downfield that was picked off. While those are decisions he will not make as he becomes more familiar in the system, Bradford surely would be the better decision maker in critical situations. So, if Jones makes poor decisions in key times, it could be a long game.
2. Inexperience against tough defenses
Let's face it. Jones hasn't faced a devastating defense in either of his first two starts against Idaho State and Tulsa. In the second half against BYU, he might have faced a pretty good defense, but it's nothing like the one he's set to face against Miami. The Hurricanes pose a powerful pass rush that could be troubling if the offensive line doesn't shore up to the challenge and give Jones ample protection in the pocket. It's important to protect the quarterback in any game but especially important to get it done in a road match-up of top 20 teams. Not only will the Miami pass rush play a factor, but the Hurricanes also have a very talented linebacking corps, led by linebacker Colin McCarthy, who racked up 13 tackles against Virginia Tech, and a good secondary, which boasts cornerback Brandon Harris, who has an ACC high five passes defended. If Jones has trouble settling in against this stout defense, it could be a long day.
1. His first true road game
When the Sooners kickoff in Miami, it will be the first time Jones has taken the field as a starter on the road. Mentally tough players find ways to get by all the adversity from playing a game on the road. But there's a lot of it. Jones must adapt to playing on a different field surface with different weather in front of more than 70,000 fans rooting for the other team. From that, there's crowd noise, and he must be able to manage the team while staying calm in pressure-cooked situations. All of these things could be major problems if he doesn't handle them the right way.