Archive for the ‘Sam Bradford’ Category

OU in Review: No Sam! So What?

September 7, 2009

Sam Bradford’s shoulder injury is dominating the fallout surrounding BYU’s shocking upset of Oklahoma, which is to be expected when the reigning Heisman winner goes down in such catastrophic fashion. That’s a big story, but as far as the game itself goes, it’s the wrong one.

Bradford plays in the second half of the game, and OU probably wins. So what.

Bradford’s absence wasn’t the difference on Saturday night. The Sooners came up short thanks to their own sloppy play. Penalties, dropped passes, poor ball protection–name a way to hand a game to a decent opponent, and OU managed to do it.

(And let’s make no mistake: BYU is a decent team, but it’s way too early to proclaim the Cougars to be an upper-echelon squad.)

For a group of young receivers, most of whom were seeing their first significant action, a collective case of the dropsies is understandable. The fumbles and prolific penalties are a different story.

No one could reasonably expect the Sooners to replicate the outstanding ball protection of the 2008 team, which only lost two fumbles all season. However, the carelessness with which veterans Ryan Broyles and DeMarco Murray gave the ball away to kill promising drives was disappointing. Even though the fumble was recovered, backup quarterback Landry Jones muffing a snap on third and short in the fourth quarter was tough to stomach, too.

The most disconcerting aspect of OU’s performance against BYU had to be the never-ending string of penalties called against the offensive line. While the game statistics show a relatively even split between the two teams for the game (BYU: 10-87; OU: 12-93), the OU o-line seemed to pick the most inopportune times to draw a flag. The three false starts on the opening series really stood out, as did the false start on OU’s final drive that turned third-and-nine from the BYU 32 into third-and-14 from the Cougars’ 37. A somewhat manageable field goal opportunity was transformed into a hope and a prayer.

The Sooner defense didn’t escape this game blameless, either. Missed tackles and what appeared to be busted assignments sparked BYU’s biggest plays in the game.

In the end, all those miscues boil down to discipline and composure. They’re the kind of mental aspects of the game that OU coach Bob Stoops harps on frequently in public. It may be a cliché, but the line between winning and losing in football is razor-thin, and a major reason why great teams always seem to stay on the right side of it is disciplined execution.

It’s still early, and in the court of public opinion, Bradford’s injury certainly took a little heat off the team’s overall poor performance. But even with a healthy Bradford, the Sooners looked nothing like a “great” team last weekend. Just “good” even sounds like a stretch.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

August 1, 2009

I hate Colt McCoy.

I hate his name. I hate watching him fire up the troops on the sidelines. I hate his touchdown celebrations. I hate having to listen to Brent Musburger drone on and on recounting the Lone Star State legend about the quarterback’s dad making sure he was born on Texas soil.

I mean, as an OU fan, I have to despise him, right?

It reminds me of a conversation I once had with a good friend of mine whose father is somewhat of a high-ranking lobbyist on a politically explosive issue. It would be an understatement to say my friend’s dad loathes a certain charismatic ex-president known for his political craftiness. But it’s not like people who disagree always despise each other, so I once asked my friend why his dad’s hatred burned so hot. “Sometimes we hate what we fear,” he responded with a laugh.

Isn’t that the truth.

Whether or not Slick W…–er, I mean, this former president–is a good guy or not is beside the point. He fell on the opposite side of an issue that was near and dear to this lobbyist’s heart, and he was extremely skilled when it came to getting his way. He could have been a saint away from the political playing field and it wouldn’t have meant bubkes.

If there’s any area that can match politics in terms of hateful histrionics, it’s sports. Imagine Sooner Nation’s surprise, then, when it was revealed this week during the Big 12 media extravaganza that OU Heisman winner Sam Bradford and McCoy are good buddies. How can the faces of two archrival programs even be civil to one another, let alone friends? It’s not dogs and cats living together, but it’s close.

Truth is, I’ve never heard a discouraging word spoken about McCoy. By all accounts he’s dedicated, polite and humble–the kind of guy who doesn’t hesitate to spend all day bailing hay to help out his grandpa. OK, so he’s not saving the world a circumcision at a time; that doesn’t mean being a good guy shouldn’t count for something.

Yet, it’s funny how the people in the stands have such a hard time differentiating between opponents as people and as competitors, while the players actually on the field seem to have no trouble at all. Maybe it’s just a matter of not knowing athletes outside of when we see them performing. Maybe it has something to do with the mutual respect born from the highest levels of competition. Whatever it may be, the only reason I can come up with to hate Colt McCoy is that he’s a damn good quarterback who has given OU all it can handle in three meetings at the Cotton Bowl. That makes me feel pretty small.

Chances are that he’ll put up just as good of a fight on October 17, win or lose. Hate that if you want, but that’s on you, not him.

2009 Oklahoma Season Preview: Quarterbacks

July 13, 2009

This is easy.

Sam Bradford = Stud.
No Sam Bradford = About 9-4.

You’re Irreplaceable

May 20, 2009

Preseason prognosticating requires us to make our predictions under the ceteris paribus assumption. So, there’s nothing like a little–or really big–wrench in the works to throw things out of kilter. You know what I mean: injuries, suspensions, scandals, etc. 

For almost any contender, the loss of just one cog in the machine can dash national championship hope, even if it’s just for one quarter of one game. Since we can’t foresee a star quarterback being thrown off the team or a playmaking linebacker blowing out his ACL, how about a little risk management? Below are the most indispensable players in college football for 2009.

Just ask the Sooners how jarring the loss of one key player can be. When MLB Ryan Reynolds went down with a season-ending knee injury early in the second half of the 2008 Red River Shootout, the Texas offense took control of the game. OU spent the rest of the season trying to plug that hole, with varying degrees of success.
It seems obvious that a Heisman-winning quarterback would be a major loss for a title contender. Losing Bradford poses a particularly scary scenario for OU coach Bob Stoops, though. OU’s backup signal callers consist of redshirt freshman Landry Jones and early enrollee Drew Allen. Both may turn out to be players, but neither is ready to take the Sooners to the promised land. Without Bradford, OU is the third-best team in the Big 12 South.
Arkansas transfer Williams brought a flair for the big play to USC’s offense in 2008, emerging as the Trojans’ top receiver early in the season. He averaged 15 yards per catch and scored 9 touchdowns on the season, including a stellar Rose Bowl against Penn State’s highly regarded defense: 10 catches, 162 yards and a TD.
Aside from Williams, USC’s receiving corp is long on talent but much shorter on proven producers. Junior wideout Ronald Johnson came on strong last season, but he doesn’t appear to be the kind of go-to guy Williams is. Not to mention, a trusted security blanket like the rangy Williams should help bring along a green quarterback.
On a roster with loads of talent, Williams is as close to irreplaceable as you’ll find in Troy.
A pass rusher may seem like an odd choice for Texas’ most irreplaceable piece, seeing as QB Colt McCoy executes the Longhorn offense so well. McCoy has super stud … backing him up, though.
Kindle, meanwhile, is expected to replace the departed Brian Orakpo as UT’s terror off the edge. In a pass-heavy conference like the Big 12, the ability to pressure the quarterback is paramount to a defense’s success. Without Kindle, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp would be counting on a gaggle of unproven youngsters to bring the heat.
Thought I’d say Tim Tebow for Florida, right? He’s an outstanding football player. But what would happen if Tebow went down with an injury before the season? Well, there’s talented backup John Brantley waiting in the wings. There would be a drop-off.
But would it be the same as if Spikes went down. He’s like a quarterback for the Gator D, and he’s a tackling machine. Could Florida’s second-stringers fill in for Spikes with the same aplomb as Tebow’s understudy? I’m skeptical.

Spring Time Sampler

April 13, 2009

Spring games are like those samplers handed out at the grocery store.

They’re a very small taste of the real deal. They’re made to leave you wanting more. They’re often missing some key ingredients or important garnishes.
And, most importantly, they can be pretty misleading. Seriously, have you ever bought some cheese or whatnot after trying it at the store, gone home and then realized why they were handing it out in such small doses?
At OU’s Red/White Game two years ago, for instance, the quarterback competition between Sam Bradford, Joey Halzle and Keith Nichol looked pretty close. We know how that turned out.
Coming off yesterday’s spring game, the consensus was that the Sooner D rocked a young and inexperienced O. Specifically, the defensive front four dominated the newcomers on OU’s offensive line. The fact of the matter, though, is that these games are set up in favor of the defense. In fact, if the defense didn’t roll, it would be a sign that something is wrong.
So, before anyone goes crowning Frank Alexander an All-American or calling Jermie Calhoun‘s performance a disappointment, think back to the time you bought that broke-ass lite ice milk.