The Norman Transcript

Sports

January 17, 2009

With Bradford and Co. back, it's a whole new world

Oklahoma’s 2009 football season won’t begin until Sept. 5. The date that will have the biggest effect on the season, however, should be remembered as Jan. 14.

That was the day quarterback Sam Bradford, tight end Jermaine Gresham and offensive tackle Trent Williams decided they would stay in college for another year. That was also when the Sooners exited a rebuilding mode and arrived in a world where another Big 12 championship and a national championship run were realties.

“The people we have returning … With them coming back, I feel like we’re going to be very solid on offense again,” Bradford said Wednesday when he announced he would return for junior season. “I think one of the strong points of this program is we’re able to replace players. Last year we lost Malcolm Kelly and everyone wondered if we would have the ability to fill in at the wide receiver position. We did.”

Few doubt OU would have figured out a way to score points next season if Bradford, Gresham and Williams had given into the urge to start playing on Sundays.

But there would have been a whole lot of uncertainty.

The offensive line would have featured five new starters on the offensive line instead of four. It would be trying to replace its four leading receivers instead of three. Of course, instead of a record-setting Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, redshirt freshman Landry Jones would be taking the reins as part of an offensive overhaul.

With Bradford back, the offense just has to find some new pieces. He’ll have a tried-and-true target in Gresham, who caught a team-leading 14 touchdowns this past season. He’ll have a pillar to protect his blind side with Williams making the move to left tackle.

OU already expected its defense to be better next season. It made leaps late this past season. It faced three of nation’s top six scoring offenses in its final four games. OU held all three of them —Florida, Missouri and Texas Tech — to about half the points they averaged a game.

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