Date: Oct. 10, 2009
Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
Venue: Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium (Norman, Okla.)
Vegas Line: OU -26
It's already been a long week in Sooner Land, and it's not even Friday yet.
All the hubbub surrounding Oklahoma's team has provided plenty of fodder for the program's critics this week. Across the aisle, the blatant homers have rushed to coach Bob Stoops' defense. Stoops, for his part, has sparred with the media multiple times during the last few days. (Although I guess that's nothing new.)
As if that's not enough OU ballyhoo, Sooner fans have endured another week of the waiting game on Sam Bradford's balky shoulder.
Tensions are running high, to say the least. Getting back on the field and thrashing an overmatched Big 12 opponent sounds like a great opportunity to blow off some steam, if only for a little while.
This weekend's tuneup against Baylor should provide a good window into how the squad is handling all the distractions with Texas on the horizon. Watch:
1. Who's playing quarterback, how he's playing and for how long
Goes without saying. Stoops is expected to announce on Friday who will be starting between Bradford and redshirt freshman Landry Jones. If Bradford can't go this week, Homerism can't see him playing in the Red River Shootout. Keep an eye on how offensive coordinator varies his play-calling if Bradford does end up playing.
2. The rotation on the offensive line
Four weeks into the season, the OU o-line is about as settled as the health care debate. The right side looked particularly shaky versus Miami last weekend. Equally disappointing has been the play of left tackle Trent Williams, the unit's supposed mainstay. Stephen Good's lack of playing time has surprised many observers as well, so look to see if this is the week he steps up his game and proves he's worthy of the billing he received coming out of high school.
3. Baylor's yards per rush
Miami's ability to run the ball effectively against OU's front seven really surprised me. Although it has lost a little pop with athletic quarterback Robert Griffith sidelined for the season with a knee injury, Baylor's run game ranks sixth in the country in yards per carry at 5.77. Was The U's success an aberration, or did the 'Canes expose a soft spot in the Sooner D?
4. Which receiver gets the most targets
With Ryan Broyles out, the onus falls to another member of OU's underachieving receiving corp to become the go-to guy for at least a couple weeks. Brandon Caleb would seem to be the front runner, but Cameron Kenney started to show glimpses last week of why he was so highly coveted coming out of junior college. Kenney could develop into a terror catching the ball on the run in the mold of Wes Welker or Jordan Shipley if given the opportunity. A number of looks Kenney's way this week could signal that the OU offense is preparing to lean on him more and more going forward.
5. Penalties (particularly personal fouls)
This ugly issue tends to rear its head more often against elite competition, so it's tough to say if a "cleaner" game versus Baylor means OU's discipline is improving. On the other hand, a number of costly penalties certainly should cause concern. Pay particularly close attention to the average yards assessed per penalty, an indicator of the severity of the infractions. (Eight penalties for 60 yards isn't bad; five penalties for 60 yards is.)