Pressure is key to stopping Oklahoma QB Jones

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Pressure is key to stopping Oklahoma QB Jones

Notre Dame hasnt faced a quarterback this year as good as Landry Jones, who's thrown for 1,644 yards and 12 over Oklahomas six games. But there exists an avenue for beating Jones, one that a few teams have followed over the last four seasons -- including Texas Tech and Kansas State, which became the third and fourth teams to win in Norman during the Bob Stoops era.

Oklahoma has cruised in its last three games, beating Texas Tech, Texas and Kansas by a combined 108 points. In each of those games, OU got out to an early lead and was able to comfortably run its offense against a good defense (Texas Tech) and two fairly bad ones (Texas and KU).

But against Kansas State, Jones and the OU offense didnt get off to a quick start, and had to play from behind for a good chunk of a game the Sooners wound up losing. The same slow-start issues popped up in OUs first game of the season, a 24-7 win over UTEP in which Jones only threw for 222 yards.

NFL scouts have taken notice of Jones performance in those two games, and in turn, one thinks the OU quarterback is nothing more than a mid-round pick.

If he gets hit a couple times, hes done, the scout told NFL.com earlier this month. (via Pro Football Talk). Lots of skill, absolutely -- great size, good arm, accurate, tons of production the last three years. But hes killing himself. ... He shows he can do everything we want him to do, he just hasnt shown he can do it consistently in pressure situations.

Hes great if his team gets a lead early and mixes it up on offense. If they get behind, and hes got to lead them back with a defense pinning their ears back, he struggles.

So theres the blueprint for Notre Dame to stop Jones. Put pressure on him, and try to punch Oklahoma in the mouth early. If Stephon Tuitt gets loose early and Notre Dames running game can grind out points in the first quarter, that could set the tone for the rest of the game. But if Jones is able to get comfortable in the first 15 or 20 minutes, it could be hard to break him out of that groove.

Oklahomas offense isnt all about Jones, though -- the Sooners have a pair of running backs averaging over six yards per carry, and Kenny Stills and Penn State transfer Justin Brown have been more than reliable pass-catchers for Jones.

It's the balance on offense. It's not just Landry Jones. If it's just Landry Jones, then they're not where they are, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. It's their ability to run the football equally as well as throwing the football. It's one of the most balanced offenses in the country in terms of they can play physical, they can throw the ball, and of course Landry Jones has got those weapons that allow him to be so successful. The offense is certainly about Landry Jones, but more importantly it's the balance that they have.

Whether Notre Dame can disrupt that balance early could decide which way Saturdays game goes.

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

Jose Quintana gets the Opening Day start for White Sox

 

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Jose Quintana has been named the Opening Day starter — for the White Sox.

While many are surprised he still hasn't been traded, few should be shocked by the news manager Rick Renteria delivered on Friday, when he announced Quintana would pitch the April 3 opener.

With Chris Sale gone to Boston, Quintana, a first-time All-Star in 2016, has been the odds-on favorite to take over as the team's ace. The only question seemed to be whether or not he'd still be in a White Sox uniform when the season began. But the club made it clear Friday that Quintana is their guy and he'll face the Detroit Tigers in the first game of 2017. The only one who seemed a little taken aback about the news is Quintana.

"I was surprised," Quintana said. "I knew I may get the ball for that day, but they didn't say nothing, so you didn't know. I just kept going and doing my workouts and all my stuff. I'm really, really happy with this opportunity. It's huge for me. I can't wait for that day to come.

"I'm excited to have this opportunity. It's a huge honor for me to have the ball for Opening Day the first time in my life. And I think it's a once-in-a-life opportunity."

Asked about the announcement earlier in the week, Renteria said he needed more time. Many speculated that it meant the White Sox were continuing to listen to offers for Quintana, who has drawn constant interest since the team began its rebuild in December.

[WHITE SOX TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Quintana, who went 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 208 innings last season, has looked fantastic all spring. Pitching in front of more than a dozen scouts on Thursday, Quintana made his first Cactus League appearance in a month and allowed two hits over seven scoreless innings. The left-hander also put on a brilliant performance for Colombia in the World Baseball Classic on March 10 as he retired the first 17 Team USA hitters he faced before allowing a hit.

"He's very happy about it," Renteria said. "He has obviously earned it.

"I don't know if he was surprised as much as he was elated and proud to be given the opportunity to be the Opening Day starter. It's a privilege."

Quintana's resume of consistency made him a clear-cut choice for the nod. He heads into 2017 having pitched at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons. In that span, he's produced a 3.32 ERA and 18.1 Wins Above Replacement, according to fangraphs.com. That figure represents the seventh-highest WAR total among all big league pitchers in that span.

Even though he's viewed as the staff ace, Quintana — who potentially has four years and $36.85 million left on his current contract — said he was surprised by the news because the club hadn't yet informed him of the honor.

"It means a lot for me, especially after last year when you make the All-Star team and this year the opportunity to play in the WBC and now you have the opportunity to pitch on Opening Day," Quintana said. "That's a lot of things happening for me now and I'm happy. And really blessed. You just try to do all my things every time.

"Maybe they don't know what it means for me, but it's a big thing."

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Miami QB Brad Kaaya

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Miami QB Brad Kaaya

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami

6'4" | 214 lbs.

2016 stats:

3,532 YDS, 62.0 CMP%, 27 TD, 7 INT, 150.3 QBR

Projection:

Third/Fourth round

Scouting Report:

"Groomed to be a quarterback from an early age, Kaaya flashes the mechanics and intelligence of a player who has spent hours in quarterback camps. However, he can be too mechanical and thinks too much rather than just flowing and responding to what the field offers him. Kaaya could have used another year of college, but he has the tools and intangibles to become an NFL starter. While he can work around his average arm strength, he must improve his accuracy and anticipation if he is to make a mark in the NFL." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles