Ryan Broyles

Coming into the 2012 season, Oklahoma senior quarterback Landry Jones sat atop a variety of national awards lists and was a legitimate contender to win the Heisman Trophy. Jones, the Sooners’ all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns (13,411 yards, 100 TDs), hasn’t put up eye-popping numbers so far this season but somehow always seems to show up for the Red River Rivalry. Let’s take a look at Jones’ stats versus the Longhorns.

In 2009 when starting quarterback Sam Bradford went down for the season after being sacked by Aaron Williams, Jones, who was a redshirt freshman, entered the game. Against one of the top defenses in college football, Jones managed to pass for 250 yards, 35 of them on a touchdown toss to Ryan Broyles that tied the game in the third quarter. But the Sooners couldn’t win the turnover battle, coughing up the ball three times to Texas’ two as Jones was picked off twice. Oklahoma lost the game, 16-13, but showed glimpses of future success.

Entering 2010 Jones was considered one of the better young quarterbacks in college football. The redshirt sophomore had finished 2009 with 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns and was poised to lead the Sooners back into BCS contention. Jones led the No. 8 Sooners into Dallas looking for revenge for the year before. Jones passed for 236 yards and two touchdowns as Oklahoma handed Texas its second straight loss of the season, 28-20.

By 2011 Longhorn fans were extremely familiar with Jones and his capabilities. In one of the most anticipated Red River Rivalry games in a decade, the No. 11 Longhorns did nothing but show up against the No. 3 Sooners. Jones gashed the Texas secondary for 367 yards and three touchdowns as
Oklahoma ran the Longhorns out of the Cotton Bowl, 55-17.

While Jones has found immense success as a Sooner, the quarterback lost his top target in Broyles last season to graduation. Broyles, the FBS all-time record holder in receptions (349), proved to be Jones’ favorite receiver, hauling in more than 4,000 yards.

When Broyles went down with an injury last November, Jones was clearly rattled, and his numbers showed. Before Broyles was hurt, Jones had a 24-5 record, 7.72 YPA, 2.6 touchdown-interception ratio and a 143.9 quarterback rating. After the Broyles injury, from Nov. 5th, 2011 to now, Jones has a 5-3 record, 61.2 completion percentage, eight touchdowns and eight interceptions — less than stellar numbers.

While Jones still has immense talent in his receiving corps, including Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds, it is hard to find a more electric quarterback-receiver duo in
college football.

No matter who the signal caller is for either team, the Red River Rivalry almost always comes down to the turnover battle. Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops reiterated that Monday in his press conference.

“Always in this game, turnovers are always a big factor,” Stoops said.

In fact, in the past 10 meetings between Texas and Oklahoma, the winner of the turnover battle has gone on to win the game.

Saturday should prove to be another great matchup between two historic powerhouse football programs.

The Daily TexanÂ’s Big 12 Preseason football picks

Junior-to-be D.J. Monroe tries to get past a UCLA defender in 2010. As a freshman in 2009, Monroe became the only player in school history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns.
Junior-to-be D.J. Monroe tries to get past a UCLA defender in 2010. As a freshman in 2009, Monroe became the only player in school history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns.

Here’s how my 2011 Big 12 Conference Media Preseason Football Poll turned out. If you’re a Texas fan, you might not want to look.

But first, two thoughts:

1) Oklahoma is going to be really, really good (duh). The Sooners have the best quarterback in the Big 12 in Landry Jones, the most electric player in Ryan Broyles, and the best defensive player in Travis Lewis.

2) Sorry to say this, but the Longhorns’ offensive talent looks to be depleted. With the exception of freshman running back Malcolm Brown, who I have as my Newcomer of the Year, not one player was in the running for a first-team selection.

On to the selections:

Offensive Player of the Year — Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
Defensive Player of the Year — Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
Newcomer of the Year — Malcolm Brown, Texas

Preseason Top 10

1. Oklahoma — See above.

2. Texas A&M ­— Ryan Tannehill, Cyrus Gray and Jeff Fuller make for a pretty dangerous trio. The O-line is raw but talented, Christine Michael would start in the backfield for any other team in the conference, and Ryan Swope and Uzoma ‘EZ’ Nwachukwu team with Fuller to make the most complete receiving corps in the Big 12.

3. Missouri — Blaine Gabbert is gone, but the Tigers usually have a potent offense regardless of the quarterback or the receivers. Four good running backs return and Michael Egnew is a versatile option at tight end.

4. Oklahoma State — It will be interesting to see how things are offensively with Dana Holgorsen now the head coach at West Virginia and the departure of Kendall Hunter — who seemed like he was in Stillwater for forever — but it’s hard not to like the combination of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. The two teamed up for a ridiculous 20 touchdowns in 2010.

5. Kansas State — The loss of Daniel Thomas hurts the Wildcats, but the addition of 2009 top recruit Bryce Brown should help. And Texas fans remember Collin Klein, don’t they?

6. Baylor — Look, anytime you’ve got Robert Griffin on your team, you have a chance to win any game. I’m not huge on the Bears’ stable of running backs, or either line — though they always seem to have somebody jump out of oblivion to be a first-round draft pick — but Griffin makes stuff happen when the play breaks down. He has Kendall Wright to throw to, also.

7. Texas — This might look stupid come November, but after a 5-7 season, it’s hard to think that the Longhorns are going to drastically improve. Plus, Texas lost to five of the six teams above them on this list last season, and Missouri wasn’t on the schedule. If it’s any consolation, the defense should be leaps and bounds better than last year.

8. Texas Tech — In the days of Mike Leach, Tech could plug in any old quarterback in its Air Raid offense and get huge numbers. Seth Doege is the first “new” quarterback in the Tommy Tuberville era, as Taylor Potts was the starter during the Leach regime. We’ll see how Tuberville — and a new 4-2-5 defense — fares in his second year on the plains. Expectations should be pretty low.

9. Iowa State — Head coach Paul Rhoads is doing something remarkable in Ames: the Cyclones are finally not awful. They beat Texas and Texas Tech last year, and lost to Nebraska by one point in overtime. They still got beat 52-0 by Oklahoma though. Some things never change. (Keep an eye on quarterback Jerome Tiller; a big, athletic quarterback who was the hero of the 9-7 2009 win over Nebraska.)

10. Kansas — Last year was a train wreck for new head coach Turner Gill. The Jayhawks have 14 starters returning, which can be construed as a good or bad thing. Good, because of the experience. Not so good, because those starters only won three games last year.

Preaseason All-Big 12 Conference Team

Offense:
QB — Landry Jones, Oklahoma.
RB — Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M.
RB — Bryce Brown, Kansas State
WR – Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
WR — Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
TE — Michael Egnew, Missouri
OL ­— Philip Blake, Baylor
OL — Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
OL — Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
OL — Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
OL — Elvis Fisher, Missouri
PK — Justin Tucker, Texas
PR — Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

Defense:
DL — Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL — Brad Madison, Missouri
DL — Kheeston Randall, Texas
DL ­— Richetti Jones, Oklahoma State
LB — Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
LB — Keenan Robinson, Texas
LB — Emmanuel Acho, Texas
DB — Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State
DB — Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
DB — Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
DB — Dustin Harris, Texas A&M
P — Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR — D.J. Monroe, Texas

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Robert Griffin III, Junior quarterback: Robert Griffin III has gone from being a solid player on a fringe bowl team to a household name and one of the top candidates for the Heisman Trophy. He has passed for 3,678 yards this season with 34 touchdowns to only five interceptions. He is second in the nation in passing efficiency and second in the nation in total offense this season. In addition to his gaudy passing numbers, Griffin is also a significant threat on the ground, with 612 yards on the ground this season. He is completing 72 percent of his passes this season and hasn’t thrown an interception since an overtime win against Kansas. His worst game this season came against Oklahoma State in which he threw for 425 yards, completed 66 percent of his passes, had one touchdown to two interceptions with a passer rating of 136 — his lowest of the season.

Kendall Wright, senior Wide Receiver: Kendall Wright is No.4 in the nation in receiving this season, and is No.1 in the Big 12 among active receivers (Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles is No.3 nationally, but is out with torn ACL). He only has three games with less than 100 yards receiving, coming at 97 yards against Missouri. He has two 200-yard receiving games this season and three more games in which he passed 120 yards receiving. He has scored a touchdown in all but three games and is coming off a six-catch, 125-yard game against Texas Tech in which he had two touchdowns. A week after taking the best receiving unit in the conference, Texas will now take arguably the best and most explosive receiver in the Big 12.

Terrence Ganaway, senior Running back: Rounding out Baylor’s three-pronged attack on offense is Ganaway, who is the leading rusher in the Big 12 this season with Henry Josey out at Missouri. He has run for 1,195 yards this season and has two games with 200 yards rushing. However, he has been held to less than 100 yards rushing seven times this season, with two of his four lowest outputs of the season coming in the last three weeks. Against Texas Tech, however, he ran for a career-high 246 yards on almost six yards per carry. Behind Griffin, he is the other most important part of the offense, as his production allows Baylor to open up the game and allow Griffin to hit explosive receivers such as Wright. In losses to Texas A&M and Kansas State, he was held to 34 and 38 yards rushing, respectively, making the Baylor attack one dimensional. If he can get the ground game going, then Baylor will be tough to stop on Saturday.

Jesus Christ.

Nope, just Landry Jones.

There are other reasons why the Longhorns were flattened Saturday. Where was the pass protection? What was with the odd penchant for calling reverses and sweeps that turned second-and-short into third-and-long? Also — here we go again — why so few offensive touches for D.J. Monroe?

But this latest installment of the Red River Rivalry was all about Jones. Texas couldn’t keep up with him or his pass-catching mates Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills. The 367-yard, three-touchdown day was the perfect endorsement for Jones’ Heisman campaign, an award he should now be the frontrunner for. The leader of the No. 3 Sooners proved that OU really is QB-U and that he could very well be the best to don the crimson and cream.

And hey, for a school that’s had Sam Bradford and Jason White, that’s a pretty elite status.

“He was as good as anybody in the country today,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He did a tremendous job. I told him that after the game.”

We thought if the Longhorns could get after Jones, they could rattle him, much like Florida State did a couple weeks ago. Jones was horrendous in Tallahassee, throwing two interceptions in the face of pressure.

So Texas brought blitz after blitz, trying to get in the quarterback’s grill. What Would Jones Do?

Pick and flick.

“The whole key was that you had to mix things up,” said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. “To his credit, when we played man, when we played zone, when we went back and forth, brought pressure and didn’t bring pressure, he did a good job of managing the down and getting the ball into the playmakers’ hands.”

There might not be a more perfect example of Jones’ brilliance than a third-and-25 in the second quarter. From his own 35-yard line, Jones stepped up in the pocket to avoid the pass rush and then threw a ball with just enough air under it to prevent Quandre Diggs from batting it down, with such perfect placement that OU receiver Jaz Reynolds hardly had to adjust to catch the ball. Three plays after the conversion, Oklahoma found itself in another third-down situation. W.W.J.D? Jones found Broyles for a touchdown to make the score 20-3.

You could say Texas’ offense lost it this game. One total touchdown — a last-ditch pass — and 259 total offensive yards, to go with three turnovers that went for defensive touchdowns, is pretty dismal. But even if Case McCoy and David Ash had played the way they had in the previous weeks and Malcolm Brown had had some daylight, this one still might not have been close. There’s no way Texas was going to put up 40-plus on the Sooners, which it would have had to done in order to match every OU score.

The game became a one-sided shootout, and the Longhorns were out of it by halftime. If you’re looking for a positive, it’s that the team should be more experienced when the Cowboys roll into Austin this weekend, with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon and the rest of the men in that offense.

“I think our players will watch film, and there will be things that we will see that we had in hand,” Diaz said. “They are really good players, and they played an outstanding game today, but we probably didn’t make it as hard on them as we maybe should have. You just go back and fix your defense.”

Jones might not be the last to carve up the Longhorns this season, but he was the first. And it’s tough to figure there’s anybody out there much better than him.  

Printed on October 10, 2011: "Jones crushes Texas defense, puts up a fight for Heisman"

Landry Jones, Junior Quarterback: Jones is the best passer that Texas has faced at this point in the young season. He is throwing for over 360 yards a game so far this season, with a pair of 400+ yard performances in his last two games. He is not particularly mobile, having only three net rushing yards this season, so pressuring him could be key. Half of his touchdown passes for the season came last week against Ball State where he threw five in just over two quarters. Jones is an accurate passer who throws an impressive deep ball. If he is given time to throw, he will connect on a lot of passes down the field, which would really put the Longhorns behind the eight-ball.

Ryan Broyles, Senior Wide Receiver: Oklahoma’s record receiver is on pace for another big season this year, having caught 38 balls for 476 yards this season. The only game that he hasn’t gotten over 100 yards receiving was against Florida State where he ran for 55 yards. His 304 career receptions are tied for the Big 12 record currently held by former Texas Tech running back, Taurean Henderson. He is only 12 catches behind the NCAA career record holder, Taylor Stubblefield of Purdue. He had a 13 catch game against Missouri, and a 14 catch game against Tulsa already this season, so he is more than capable of setting the record against the young Texas secondary.

Travis Lewis, Senior Linebacker: Lewis is the leader of the Oklahoma defense. He suffered a setback in fall practice when he broke his foot before the season started. Projected to be out until next week, Lewis came back earlier than expected two weeks ago against Florida State. Despite missing a game with the injury, he has 23 tackles and overcame the foot injury to lead the team in tackles twice this season, including his first game back against the Seminoles. Lewis, an NFL caliber players, is widely considered one of the top linebackers in the nation.

Dominique Whaley, Junior Running Back: Whaley has been the surprise of the Big 12. A junior college transfer, he has come in and provided the Sooners with a rushing attack that many thought would not be there after Demarco Murray left. He has rushed for 379 yards and seven touchdowns this season on 5.4 yards per carry. The walk-on has given Oklahoma another dimension to its offense to balance out Jones’ passing attack. He was stellar in the two Sooner blowouts at home this season, but had trouble in the pair of ten-point wins they played against Florida State and Missouri. He rushed for 139 yards in those two games combined, compared to 131 from game one against Tulsa. But he has proven that he should not be overlooked, especially against Texas defense that has given up big runs through the tackles.

Ryan Broyles isn’t much of a physical presence.

The Oklahoma receiver is not the tallest player on the field — he is only 5-10 — or the biggest — 188 pounds is small for a football player — and maybe that’s why he doesn’t stand out to fans. But his opponents notice him, and this week the young Texas defensive backs will face their toughest challenge yet: containing Broyles.

“His ability to adjust to the ball in flight is like no one else in the country,” said senior safety Blake Gideon. “Just because you have him covered doesn’t mean he’s not an option.”

Broyles is one of the best receivers in college football, and perhaps one of the greatest in college football history. He was a consensus all-American his junior year and is well on his way to doing so again his senior season.

His junior season shattered the Oklahoma record books. He added 1622 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 school records to his name.

Broyles could have chosen to enter the NFL draft last year, where he most likely would have been a first- or second-round pick, but he decided to come back for his fourth and final year to chase a national title.

“I feel like we have the right pieces next year to compete for a national championship as well,” Broyles said after his decision to come back to school last spring.

Broyles certainly hasn’t slowed down off last year’s pace as the Sooners’ senior-laden team chases a championship. He has already caught 476 yards and six touchdowns through four games; including a four-catch, 109-yard and three-touchdown performance against Ball State on Saturday.

It was on his fourth and final catch on Saturday that Broyles became the Big 12’s all-time leader in receptions with 404, passing Texas Tech’s Taurean Henderson’s mark of 403.

“It was too surreal,” Broyles said of obtaining the record. “I got a little emotional. I had people that never thought I would be in this position in my life. I just kept chipping away, chipping away, and it definitely paid off.”

Broyles is now only 12 receptions away from the all-time NCAA record, held by Perdue’s Taylor Stubblefield. If he manages to stay healthy the rest of the year he will easily eclipse that mark in the next few games.

As a classic slot receiver, he’s not the tallest or the fastest player on the gridiron, but he beats almost every corner that’s thrown at him with precise route running, quick feet and great hands. He is Landry Jones’ favorite target and the two have a connection on the field that is hard to stop, much like the Colt McCoy-Jordan Shipley combo that Texas fans enjoyed so much.

“[Landry and Broyles] definitely spend hours on hours in the springtime and summer working with each other on timing routes,” Texas safety Blake Gideon said.

The Texas defense can’t afford to spend all their time accounting for Broyles. The rest of the Sooner receivers are a threat as well, creating a real catch-22.

“If you spend a lot of time chasing him [Broyles] around, you’ll get murdered by all the other ones they got,” said Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.

Broyles is by far the best receiver Texas will face this season. Perhaps the praise of Mack Brown, coach of Oklahoma’s biggest rival, best sums up the quiet greatness of Broyles.

“Ryan is a guy that walked on the scene as a starter,” Brown said. “He could catch and run fast and make plays and he’s done it every year that we’ve played them. I’m really glad he’s a senior. I’ve enjoyed watching him.”

Senior defensive tackle Kheeston Randall is one of three Longhorns on the All-Big 12 Preseason team.

Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa | Daily Texan Staff

If the 2011 All-Big 12 Preseason team is any indication, the rest of the league has some catching up to do.
Oklahoma paced the conference with a total of nine selections, five more than any other school, and the Sooners’ own Travis Lewis was tabbed as the Defensive Player of the Year.

After a 5-7 season, Texas had just three players make the team, all on the defensive side of the ball — Keenan Robinson, Blake Gideon and Kheeston Randall. With the trio, the Longhorns are tied with Missouri for fourth-most preseason selections. Texas A&M and Oklahoma State each have four, with OSU’s Justin Blackmon the Offensive Player of the Year. Incoming Texas running back Malcolm Brown was chosen as the Newcomer of the Year.

Here’s the full list:

Offensive POY: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Defensive POY: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
Newcomer of the Year: Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas

Offense:

QB: Landry Jones, Oklahoma
RB: Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M
RB: Bryce Brown, Kansas State
RB: Roy Finch, Oklahoma
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
OL: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
C: Ben Habern, Oklahoma
OL: Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech
OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

Defense:

DL: Brad Madison, Missouri
DL: Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
DL: Kheeston Randall, Texas
DL: Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
LB: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
LB: Keenan Robinson, Texas
DB: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
DB: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State
DB: Blake Gideon, Texas
DB: Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma

Specialists:

PK: Grant Ressel, Missouri
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
PR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma