We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief going into Saturday's game against the Baylor Bears because it isn't a big game and it isn't away from Norman. Like Oklahoma the Bears have suffered a devastating injury and are learning to adjust without a key element of their offense. Baylor has never beaten Oklahoma in Big 12 football and while that has to change sometime its not likely that it will be this year even though they enter this contest with a better record than the Sooners. I think that at the end of the day we'll wind up saying that it was just Baylor but it doesn't mean that there isn't cause for concern heading into this weekend's game. Here's five reasons to stay alert Saturday afternoon.
#5 - The Offensive Line Still Has Significant Issues: We learned Saturday night in Miami that the offensive line hasn't progressed the way that we hoped it had. Under pressure they are prone to forget the snap count, miss a block or commit a hold. The Bears aren't likely to provide the type of pressure to cause a 4th and 40 type meltdown but their attack will be somewhere between what we last week in Miami and Tulsa the week before. Without getting pressed into pressure situations the o-line will show enough improvement to provide that dreaded false sense of security and we all know who next week's opponent is.
#4 - The Sam Bradford Watch Is Growing Tiring: The decision on whether or not Bradford will play has been delayed until sometime today but my concern isn't in the delay of an announcement but the delay in #14 getting back on the field. He's been cleared by doctors and reports are that coaches say he's throwing like the Bradford of old. All indications are that this is Bradford's decision and Bob Stoops isn't saying much about it anymore. On Monday he let Sam have his own press conference to speak for himself and Thursday's announcement about Friday's announcement came from Kenny Mossman and the media relations department. With each passing week that Bradford doesn't play you have to wonder at what point you just cut your losses and make this Landry's team.
#3 - Sooner Psyche May Be Blown: How long has it been since the Sooners were out of the BCS championship race before conference play even started? Better yet, how long has it been since Baylor had the better record going into a football game against Oklahoma? We need to see a Sooner team that comes out of the locker room hungry and with a chip on their shoulders but we could wind up getting a team that's lethargic and just goes through the motions.
#2 - Oklahoma Can't Afford Any More Injuries: You have to wonder at what point the curse of the injury bug is finally going to let up and give Oklahoma a break. I have no idea what the worst case scenario is for Bob Stoops and his offensive coaches but I would think that Landry Jones under center, Brody Eldridge as the #1 tight end option and Brandon Caleb as the leading active receiver is pretty close. The Sooners are pushing the limits of how many players can be injured and still have an effective offense.
#1 - We're Back To Unproven At The Wide Receiver Position: Yes, I do know that Brandon Caleb is working his way through a fairly solid season but his success has come along with the success of Ryan Broyles. Now with Broyles out the opposing defenses don't have to focus their attention on stopping him and can focus now on Caleb. Can Caleb handle being the #1 option? Who becomes #2 now? To help this situation, look for the Sooners to do a few things. First, look for DeMarco Murray to spend some time in the slot. That would force the defense to give same type of attention to that position as they did when Broyles was playing there, as long as he's able to catch the ball and make a play. Second, look for Adron Tennell to get another chance to stretch the field. This really is a move of necessity more than anything else and once again will only work if he's able to catch the ball. Third, look for Cameron Kenny's role to increase. He's steadily seen more snaps and has made more plays over the last three games and with Broyles out the need for him to contribute has never been greater.