Originally published October 16, 2008 at 12:00a.m., updated October 16, 2008 at 10:17a.m.
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma:
Yards per game: 342
Todd Reesing, Kansas
Yards per game: 330
When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Memorial Stadium, Norman, Okla.
TV: Sunflower Broadband chs. 9, 12
Records: No. 4 OU 5-1; No. 16 KU 5-1
So far this week, the Kansas University football team's strategy for slowing down Oklahoma super-sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford has centered on a single idea: disruption.
When the 16th-ranked Jayhawks travel to Norman on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff against No. 4 Oklahoma, they'll be looking to make life particularly difficult for the Sooners' signal-caller: Bring pressure early. Flush him from the pocket. Force him to throw on the run - preferably with a defender nestled snugly into his personal space.
"When you've got an (offensive) line like he does, he has a lot of comfort zone back there," KU linebacker James Holt said. "But we're going to try to bring some pressure to him and hopefully try to get him out of his game."
While these tactics are by no means a new concept against Bradford, making them work in a game situation has proven a difficult task for opponents this season.
Through the first six games of 2008, Bradford ranks in the top four nationally in pass efficiency (second, 201.23), passing yards per game (fourth, 342) and total passing yards (fourth, 2,052). He is considered among the favorites to win Oklahoma's first Heisman trophy since Jason White in 2003, and against then-No. 5 Texas last week, when Bradford pieced together a 387-yard, five-touchdown performance, it marked the third time this season Bradford had thrown for five touchdowns in a game.
Said Kansas coach Mark Mangino: "Going into a game, no matter who the quarterback is, you would like to be able to disrupt his rhythm a little bit. We certainly want to be able to do that. But the fact of the matter is, (Bradford) doesn't get disrupted very often. He doesn't get flustered. He has a bad play, he quickly puts it behind him and moves on to the next one."
Bradford has had help, of course. Oklahoma features arguably the best offensive line in the country, returning all five starters from last year's 11-3 team. And with a stable of top-tier receivers in Manuel Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias, the Sooners feature two players who have combined for 1,046 yards and 13 touchdowns with six regular-season games left to play.
"Every receiver's pretty good," said Jayhawks cornerback Chris Harris. "And their receivers have picked it up a lot with their run game struggling."
Even the team's only significant weakness - like Kansas, the lack of a consistent running game - hasn't seemed to have any ill-effects on the 6-foot-4, 218-pound sophomore.
Although the Sooners were held to 48 yards rushing against Texas last week, and just 25 against then-24th-ranked TCU, Bradford managed to keep his team's offense moving in both games.
On Saturday, as Kansas looks to beat Oklahoma for the first time since 1997 and take a big step toward claiming their first outright Big 12 North title in school history, the team's success in this venture will likely be tied directly to the amount of mayhem they can inflict on Oklahoma's quarterback.
"(Bradford) is extremely accurate with the ball," said KU defensive end Russell Brorsen. "And a guy like that, the more pressure you get on him, the better off you're going to be."
¢KU Quarterback Club to meet: The KU Quarterback Club will meet today from 5-7 p.m. at the Paddy O'Quigley's located in the Holiday Inn Holidome.
Game highlights and speakers will begin at 5:20 p.m., and "Hawk Talk" with KU coach Mark Mangino will be held from 6-7 p.m.