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Thursday, October 9, 2008

OU’s Bradford better in no-huddle

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— Here's the question: Does Oklahoma's no-huddle offense make Sam Bradford better, or is the Sooners' offense so great because he's the guy who makes it go?

It's about as close to a riddle that can't be solved, but one thing's for certain: The top-ranked Sooners (5-0, 1-0) are rolling with Bradford at the controls.

After edging out Heisman winner Tim Tebow to lead the nation in passing efficiency as a red-shirt freshman, Bradford is on pace this season to put up even more impressive numbers. With 18 touchdown passes and only three interceptions heading into Saturday's showdown with No. 5 Texas (5-0, 1-0), even Jason White's school record of 40 touchdown passes in his 2003 Heisman season isn't safe.

The Sooners considered going to the no-huddle back when White was on campus, but only committed fully to it after Bradford proved himself last season. It was implemented as quietly as coaches could keep it this spring, and opponents haven't been able to keep up with the tempo so far this season.

"He's helped it because of how smart he is and how quick he can run it and how quick he can process things," center Jon Cooper said. "And it's helped him by kind of making the defenses show what they're going to do quicker. He's young but he's still really smart."

Bradford, who's about as even-keeled as they come, isn't impressed by any numbers that aren't in the win column, though. He blames himself for getting rattled in two of the Sooners' losses last season, at Colorado and in the Fiesta Bowl against West Virginia, and he was knocked out of the other defeat with a concussion.

This year, he feels that he's more mentally tough when hard times hit.

"I just feel like emotionally I'm more steady. I don't get down on myself too much in the game," said Bradford, who has completed 73 percent of his passes for 1,665 yards. "I'm more poised, being able to hang in the pocket and take a hit and maybe make a throw that I maybe got out of the pocket and had to throw away last year."

So far, he's been on the attack too much to come across much adversity. The Sooners have scored on their first two possessions in every game and have never been behind. He has two games with four touchdowns and two games with five, giving himself more five-TD games in his career - four - than either White or 2000 Heisman runner-up Josh Heupel.

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