A predicament the size of Oklahoma
Written by Curt Popejoy on 09/21/2009
There wasn't a better time for a college football team to get a bye week. The Soonersare coming off an impressive victory over an explosive Tulsa team, that they held to 0 points and about half of their normal yardage output. This is something that Sooners fans can rally around. I personally haven't seen their defense play this well in many seasons.
By contrast on the offensive side of the ball there is disarray. Their Heisman winning quarterback Sam Bradford is hurt in the opening game. A game they lost by the way. Their All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham suddenly decides to have season ending surgery after said injury. The new re-tooled offensive line is not as good as advertised. The wide receiver corps is full of more questions than answers.
So with all that too think about why not throw a game against the Miami Hurricanes into the mix, coming up in just two weeks. The Hurricanes are one of the most impressive teams in the country, 3 weeks in. They have shown the speed and athleticism that made all college football fans awe, and all non-Miami fans hate them. Jacory Harris looks to be the quarterback this team has been missing for the majority of this decade, and the athletes at the skill positions are reminiscent of Hurricane teams of old. When the Sooners schedule this non-conference matchup I doubted they'd be looking up at Miami in the polls.
So, if you are Bob Stoops at the Sooner coaching staff, how do you spend the next two weeks? Well one thing, and maybe the most important thing they have to do in the next two weeks is decide who is going to start at quarterback. The status of Sam Bradford's injury has been kept in strict confidence. It's so secret that Sam doesn't even know. I kid, but you get my point. When he went down, waiting in the wings was super freshman Landry Jones, and his Super Troopers mustache. He looked shaky against BYU with no prep. Dismantled Idaho State, which is no great feat but still he showed the skills that made Stoops want him. Mobile, big arm, very elusive in the pocket, and a natural leader. But still even after this game, no one was thinking quarterback controversy.
But we fast forward(rewind?) to Saturday. Tulsa, and the best offense from last season comes to Norman, and the Sooners dismantle them 45-0, behind an epic performance by the defense, and a record 6 touchdown passes by Jones. Yeah, he broke a record that Bradford couldn't. Not to mention he seems to have really developed a chemistry with receivers Ryan Broyles and Brandon Caleb. Something we didn't see with Bradford in the first half of the BYU game.
So now it's almost time for what is the biggest game of the season for the Sooners. Every bit as bit as the Red River Shootout. This game could vault the Sooners not only well into the top ten, but back into the national title picture. This is a road game against a top ten team and will be huge for strength of schedule.
One thing Oklahoma has going in it's favor is next week's schedule. They get a bye, while Miami has to travel to play Virginia Tech. Tech isn't the team that Miami is, but just the physical nature of how that game will go, works to the advantage of an Oklahoma team that can rest and prepare.
So, what's the predicament? It's who's going to start at QB. Jones clearly has the confidence of this team. The offensive line looks to be improving as adjustments are made, and as a staff the Sooners have to decide it it's worth putting Bradford on the field, and potentially upsetting all that to get the better(?) quarterback out there.
I love what I've seen of Jones. He's got great size, an arm at least as good as Bradford, and for me, much better pocket presence and mobility. I realize Bradford is more experienced and his resume' contains some gaudy stats and impressive wins. But there's a part of me that can't forget that image of Bradford being harassed by the Gator defenders and he was a little lost as to what to do about it. I don't see that from Jones. He doesn't hesitate to make plays with his feet, setting up his arm.
So, what do the Sooners do? They have a couple of options and all depend on the status of Bradford right now. I get the impression that Stoops plans to be as mum on Bradford's status as the Keebler Elves with their cookie recipe. This is a smart move. No reason to create a quarterback controversy if you don't need to. But moving ahead to next Saturday when the game is a week away, I expect both quarterbacks to be in the mix. I'm not sure what I would do if I were Stoops, and let's say Bradford is 90% for the game. Is a 90% Bradford better than Landry at 100%? I lean towards no, but I can see the school of thought that a starting QB can't lose his job because of injury. But this game could mean the season for Oklahoma, and don't they want the guy that helps them win the most under center?
Don't be shocked Sooner fans, if this decision is one that isn't made until just a few days before the game, and it's Bradford and he hasn't gotten a ton of reps with the first team. Just a feeling I have. Oh and don’t rule out how Miami does against Virginia Tech coming into play as well. I think against a speedy Miami D, Jones gives them a better chance, but we can put all the guesses aside in a couple of weeks.
EDIT-Looks like sanity prevails in Norman, and rather than start Bradford at 80%, Stoops is going with Landry. But I knew Stoops would hold out as long as he could. He wanted to start Bradford or he wouldn't have waited so long. Good call I say, especially after seeing the beatdown Miami took by the Hokies. OU needs to line it up and run right at them, and on defense, bring the heat. BOOMER SOONER!!!!
Last Edited: 09/21/2009