Sam Bradford Is Coming Back and Bringing the Defense with Him

J. Robert ByromCorrespondent IJanuary 14, 2009

Wait a second there, Longhorns, it appears that Sam Bradford has made the decision to come back for his junior year and will be bringing the defense with him.

What looked like a rebuilding team for the Sooners just six days ago is starting to look like a championship-caliber team already. With Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, and Trent Williams coming back, the Sooners are in a great position to try for a fourth Big 12 championship in a row.  

The decision says a lot about Bradford's character. He has goals he wants to achieve and is not going to let millions and millions of dollars get in the way of that.  Tebow and McCoy both stayed but could make millions more by improving their draft stock next year. 

Sam has pretty much nowhere to go in the draft but down because chances are he was a top five pick and either the first or second QB taken.  Injury or a bad season may cost him millions, but he decides to stay at OU and accomplish his goals instead, and you have to respect that even if you bleed burnt orange. 

But Sam isnt coming back alone, the defense returns nine starters including both CBs who had good solid years.

This will be the first time in four or five seasons OU doesnt have new CBs cutting their teeth early in the year.  The Sooners pass defense has started off poorly the past three years and slowly improved as the season went along. 

Next year with two good experienced corners, The Sooners may be able to defend the pass straight out of the gate. The only two players that will have to be replaced on defense are the two safeties, but OU will have a ton of extra CBs and LBs to try out different packages to stop both the pass and the run.

The defensive line will be a monster next year, and it may have been the best overall in the country this year being second in sacks and first in tackles for loss. It returns everybody and adds two great recruits, one of which, Jarmarkus McFarland, may have been the most recruited D-linemen in the country. OU should have the best defensive line next year bar none.

The linebacker corp looks strong next year, with Ryan Reynolds, Travis Lewis and Austin Box as its anchors.  Plenty of backups got a chance to play this year due to injuries and showed they can step in and do the job when needed.  Plus OU has an impressive linebacker class coming in this season. 

Only two teams were able to run on OU all year and they were held down most plays but broke a few long ones late in the game.

With OU only losing two starters, I would expect the defense, which was considered by many an achilles heel last year to be the strength of OUs 2009 team. If their offense remains one of the top five or ten, this team has a chance to be truly scary, but Texas and Florida return extremely strong teams as well and seeing how both of them beat OU this year, OU needs to improve more than they do and that may be hard losing four off of the starting line.

OU's line won't be horrible, they have talent and Trent Williams coming back is a huge plus.  They have a JUCO All-American transferring to them and a lot of back-ups with playing time but most young offensive lines struggle especially early and they will only have a few games to be ready for the Longhorns.

Will Muschamp's defense will be even better next year.  He returns most, just losing a few up front.  Given another year to coach these guys up, they will be much better.  Muschamp may be the best in the business, as a defensive coordinator.  So, the OU offensive line will need to grow up fast to be ready for Texas so early in the year.

Without a great line OU will not be a top team, just look at what happened to Georgia this year, a young line and a few injuries dropped a preseason number one to barely hanging in the top 25 come years end.

Six days ago, I would have said that Texas was hands down the favorite to win the Big 12 but now it is a toss up once again, and if TE Jermain Gresham comes back as well OU may be the favorite.  With all that happened this year with the Big 12 tie-breaker, I am not missing the Red river rivalry next year.

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