Originally Published: Oct 13, 2009 3:54 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer
NORMAN, Oklahoma – Sam Bradford’s return to the starting lineup in the Sooners’ 33-7 win over Baylor Saturday gave the Heisman Trophy winner a chance to get some much-needed game time before the Red River Rivalry against Texas.
The importance of that playing time was not lost on Bradford or the OU coaching staff.
“Playing last week was important,” Bradford said. “I think, for our offense as a whole, it was important for me to get back out there. But I think for the guys to get used to me being back out there was important.”
Against Baylor, Bradford got the chance to build more chemistry with receivers that are largely new to the OU lineup because of injuries to Ryan Broyles and Jermaine Gresham.
"Obviously this is a different team,” Bradford said. “With Jermaine not in the lineup it is a little bit of a different offense from last year. I think there are certain situations where maybe last year I favored one side because Jermaine was there and this year I need to realize it's a little bit different.”
The receivers struggled at times Saturday, dropping 11 of Bradford’s 49 passes. But Bradford completed passes to nine different players, including freshman Jaz Reynolds and sophomore Dejuan Miller, both of whom had been non-factors earlier in the year.
“Dejaun Miller had five catches, he went down and got some really good catches,” said head coach Bob Stoops. “Jaz Reynolds came on and caught a few balls and made some plays, it's just about getting him more comfortable.”
Bradford and his receivers also were not on the same page in a few situations, but Bradford noted such communication problems as one of the reasons why a week of experience will help against Texas.
“We saw some things on film yesterday that we can correct, and hopefully we will correct this week going into Saturday,” Bradford said.
Redshirt freshman Landry Jones played well while Bradford was out, throwing for 861 yards and 10 touchdowns. Stoops praised Jones’ performance, but said it is still good to have his Heisman Trophy winner back.
“No slight on Landry, but in any game, how can [Bradford] not make a difference?” Stoops said. “Last year he was the best player in college football, how can he not? Sure he does, absolutely he does. You’re not talking about just any old guy. He’s been pretty special, over and over.”
Bradford finished Saturday’s game with 389 yards and a touchdown pass to Adron Tennell, but one of his largest contributions had nothing to do with his statistics. Several players said Bradford’s vocal and emotional leadership was infectious.
“[Bradford is] our leader and everyone is used to him being vocal,” said running back DeMarco Murray. “Landry did a great job while Sam was out. We're excited with the fact that Sam is back, he's a great asset to our team.”
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