By Bryan Waters
Oklahoma Sooners Examainer
The annual beatdown of the Baylor Bears by the Oklahoma Sooners–OU now stands 19-0 in the series–is usually an amiable schmoozefest.
Then came the return of injured Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford.
The conversations of talkative Sooner fans are running the length of Bradford's 389 passing yards after the Heisman-winning signal caller guided No. 19 Oklahoma to a 33-7 win yesterday in the Big 12 opener.
"It's extremely gratifying just to get back out on the field," Bradford said after the game. "Just to be out there with the guys. Just the simple things like handoffs. Everything out there, it's just exciting to be back."
Bradford completed 27 of 49 passes–the second most thrown in his career. A well-balanced offense piled up 586 total yards on 99 plays, didn't turn the ball over and secured 34 first downs. Bradford connected with nine receivers, including tight ends Brody Eldridge and Trent Ratterree and newcomers Dejuan Miller and Jaz Reynolds.
However, it was far from a flawless performance. Sooner players and coaches were down on themselves for red zone deficiencies. Four times OU made it inside Baylor's 20, only to settle for a field goal. (On the positive side, kicker Jimmy Stevens hit on all four attempts.)
The Sooners (3-2 overall, 1-0 in Big 12 play) also dropped anywhere from six to 10 throws, depending on how one measures the degree of difficulty. Some were pinpointed darts from Bradford. Other attempts were off-target, showing his understandable rust and lack of game experience with several young receivers.
"I think we're going to get better as an offense every week," Bradford said. "I still feel our receivers made some great plays. I love the energy they played with. They were flying around, made a lot of downfield blocks and sprung some runs for us. I'm sure we're going to eliminate some of those drops going down the road."
Defensively, Oklahoma was facing Baylor's third-string quarterback, true freshman Nick Florence, who was 22 of 41 for 220 yards. Oklahoma nuzzled the Bear rushing attack. Baylor netted only six yards on the ground.
Sooner Nation couldn't help but wonder how Bradford's shoulder felt after such stress. After all, the Red River Rivalry against hated foe Texas is now less than a week away.
"It's felt a lot better this week compared to last week," Bradford said.
"It feels good."
Spoken to the Sooner schmoozers out there.
Bryan Waters writes for the Oklahoma Sooners Examiner. Click here for more of his articles on Sooner football.