Oklahoma’s contest against Texas Tech is a second chance for Oklahoma in multiple ways.
With the loss earlier this season against Texas, the Sooners looked to be out of both the Big 12 and BCS championships. During last season's OU-TTU matchup, a concussion in the first quarter took quarterback Sam Bradford out of the game. OU lost the game 34-27, ruining what had been a perfect season up to that point.
This Saturday, both the Sooners and Sam Bradford get a second chance against Texas Tech.
If Oklahoma is to come out on top, Sam Bradford is going to be the key. Sports fans saw it last season. After Bradford left the game in the first quarter, the Oklahoma offense sputtered for two quarters while backup quarterback Joey Halzle worked to get his rhythm. Texas Tech is the only team in the Big 12 conference that Sam Bradford has not notched a win against.
This season Sam Bradford has managed not only to stay healthy, but also to put up more impressive numbers. He is currently completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 3,406 yards and 38 touchdowns. According to ESPN, these numbers put him at No. 3 in the Heisman polling. Beat Texas Tech, and he will move up even further.
A victory over Texas Tech depends not only on Bradford, but on his entire offense as well. Bradford has hit 17 different targets so far this season for completed passes. But those same receivers will need to concentrate on not only getting open, but also making the catch. Receiver Manuel Johnson in particular has had an issue the past few games with missed catches.
It’s a rare occurrence that Bradford throws a pass that is uncatchable. It’s more likely that a receiver will get distracted by thinking about yards after catch and miss the pass. While yards after catch can make a big difference, actually making the catch first helps out a lot more in the long run.
Oklahoma’s rushing attack needs to give Bradford some breathing room as well. During the past two games the ground game has improved immensely after a midseason slump.
Against Texas A&M, the Sooners gained more yards on the ground than through the air (328 to 325 yards). RB Chris Brown came on strong, and DeMarco Murray came out with a vengeance, rushing for 123 yards on seven carries.
Being able to run the ball will help open up Texas Tech’s defense for Bradford. It should also take some of the pressure off the receivers, giving them more time to make those catches.
Last, the Sooners offensive line needs to protect Bradford at all costs. They have allowed him to be sacked seven times so far this season. Both TCU and Texas in particular did a good job of getting through the offensive line, each sacking Bradford three times.
Being able to read the stats as well as anyone, the Sooners offensive line should be expecting a lot of blitzes on Bradford from Texas Tech's defense. While Bradford is still good even when a defense flushes him from the pocket, he’s no good either flat on his back or on the sidelines.
Offensive line—consider this your second chance.
No matter what is said, this will all be decided on the field. But most people have a way of taking advantage of second chances, and Sam Bradford and company have been no different this season.