A beat writer for the Chicago Bulls once told me the hardest part of his job was coming up with something to write about every night other than Michael Jordan's brilliance. After all, 40-point performances and triple-doubles were the norm during His Airness' reign.
I'm not saying Sam Bradford is on the same level as MJ, mind you. However, when it comes to OU football, we're in a similar predicament.
Three times this year OU's sophomore quarterback has set broken his own school record for passing yards in a game. After Saturday's 45-31 win against Kansas, the mark stands at 468 yards. (Of course, he did have 53 attempts in the game. Jack Mildren must be hollering in protest from the Great Beyond.)
How about we talk about the defense for a minute instead? OU's team this year reminds Homerism of USC in 2005. That squad, which lost to Vince Young's Texas Longhorns in a classic championship game, featured a dazzling, star-driven offense and a solidly mediocre D. Despite talented athletes all over the field, that USC defensive unit simply couldn't put it together. The Trojans tempted fate a couple times during the regular season, nearly dropping shootouts against Notre Dame and Fresno State. In the end, USC's defensive deficiencies cost them a championship, as Young ran wild in the Rose Bowl.
The Sooners appear to have good talent across the board on defense, and yet opponents continue to roll up big numbers against them. The play of the D this year has burned Bob Stoops's team already in a loss to, ironically, Texas. Just as the Trojans couldn't get a stop when they needed it against Young, OU simply couldn't keep Texas quarterback Colt McCoy from moving the ball at will.
Even more perplexing is the fact that the OU defenders have been equal opportunity offenders, allowing opponents to gash them consistently by land and air. It's even spread to OU's kickoff coverage. Before, OU's susceptibility to the deep ball was well-known. Now, it seems like the defense can get beat any number of ways.
Against Kansas, the Sooners did get the stops when they needed them. (How did the Jayhawks fail to convert a third down all day?) When you consider that KU scored on a deep pass after cornerback Brian Jackson fell down, it makes the score a bit less concerning. Still, the Sooners clearly are struggling to replace the leadership and savvy of injured middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds.
OU remains right in the thick of the championship hunt. At this point, OU's D is good enough to keep the Sooners there and contend for a national title. Notice I didn't say "win."
*How is it that Quentin Chaney can't get on the field unless someone is hurt? He has to be the best fill-in wide receiver in history. Of course, if Manuel Johnson is out for an extended period of time and Chaney has to start, that threat of reversion to the mean looms large.
*Where would OU be this year without Gerald McCoy and Jeremy Beal? McCoy fully deserves to be a first-team All-American so far.
*Dr. Wild Wang made an interesting observation about OU fullback Matt Clapp during the KU game: "Clapp has become quite a runner. It's like no one wants to catch him."
*The play of Demarco Murray turned out to be one of the game's most promising developments. He's finally showing some flashes of the authority he ran with prior to his injury last season. In particular, he has become a strong power runner who doesn't shy away from contact. He still looks a bit tentative on some of his cuts, but hopefully that will come as he continues to gain confidence.
*Hope Stoops has been grooming another offensive coordinator. Kevin Wilson will be running his own show somewhere next year.