Big 12 Skywriters Tour Presented by Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Sooners
Sam Bradford, Oklahoma Quarterback
By Wendell Barnhouse Big 12 Sports.com Correspondent
NORMAN, Okla. - Practices at Oklahoma are a bigger secret than Obama and McCain's vice-presidential choices.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops isn't running for the highest office in the land. He just wants to make sure his team finishes the 2008 season ranked higher than any other team.
Stoops has closed all but two of his team's preseason practices to prying eyes. The speculation is that the Sooners are still working on the no-huddle offense they added to the playbook during spring practice.
"The biggest factor is the adjustments we're making offensively and defensively," Stoops said of keeping his team's workouts under wraps. "I feel in the past there have been people who have watched our scrimmages that we have played.
"I'm not going to put us at a competitive disadvantage.''
Sophomore jinx talk: Sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford might win the Heisman Trophy if he betters the numbers he posted as a freshman.
He led the nation in passing efficiency. His 36 touchdown passes set an NCAA record for freshmen quarterbacks. He was intercepted just eight times in 341 attempts.
Bradford, though, is only concerned about two numbers: wins and losses.
"You cannot look at numbers, numbers can be very misleading,” Bradford said.
"There are a lot of things I can do to be a better quarterback, and there are a lot of things I can do to help our team win. I don't so much look at the numbers but the bigger things I can do to help this team win.
"I need to become more of a leader on this team.”
Motto motivation: Oklahoma has adopted a four-letter mantra that has become the team's unofficial motto - WTLG. It stands for "Win The Last Game."
The Sooners have lost their last game in four of the last five seasons. Four of those were BCS games; two of those were for the national championship.
"We've been very deficient in that area," senior safety Nic Harris said. "So WTLG, that's our whole motto this year."
At the least, winning the last game could mean the Fiesta Bowl. At the most, it could mean winning the national championship.
“The national championship is the biggest goal,” All-American guard Duke Robinson said. “A lot of teams have done that here before. We want to be remembered with those kinds of teams. You can’t do it without winning one.”
Murray the next Peterson? DeMarco Murray has only made one start. But the sophomore running back could become the second-best tailback of the 10-year Bob Stoops Era. That would make Murray second to Adrian Peterson. "DeMarco's got a chance to be a really special player,” Stoops said. "His upside is quite vast. "He's such a good athlete. It's fun to watch him. He's got great hands. He's a guy who could be all-American at corner, receiver or running back. Or playing college basketball, if he wants. "Adrian's talented in different ways. His endurance and strength is so different from anybody else. DeMarco maybe catches the ball better, maybe better at running routes. Just a different style than Adrian.”
Margin for error: Oklahoma's 48-28 loss to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl was a low point for the Sooners' defense. Coordinator Brent Venables pointed out that OU held the Mountaineers to three yards or fewer on 51 of 59 offensive snaps. "(But) the eight plays, they’re going for touchdowns all over the damn place."
Study session: Before the Sooners' preseason practice started, Bob Stoops and his staff spent two days in Jackson, Miss. New Orleans coach Sean Payton invited the Sooners' staff to the Saints' training camp for full access to practices and meetings. English lesson: Sophomore defensive end Auston English, voted the Big 12's Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, said that he'll be ready to play in the season opener against Chattanooga on Aug. 30. English had an appendectomy in late July.
Sooners add lineman: Jarvis Jones, a 6-7, 295-pound offensive lineman, has transferred to Oklahoma from LSU. After sitting out the 2008 season under NCAA transfer rules, Jones will have three seasons of eligibility remaining. Last season, he played left tackle and right guard, participating in 63 plays for the national champions.
BIG 12 FOOTBALL SKYWRITERS TOUR Prior to the formation of the Big 12 Conference, sportswriters and sports broadcasters covering football in the Big Eight and Southwest conferences would gather in a central location and take off on the annual Skywriters Tour...an eight-day trek from campus-to-campus around the respective conferences to cover the preseason football practices. The tour provided fans with unprecedented daily coverage from each school. In the early years the tour consisted mostly of writers traveling by charter air service and thus was dubbed as the Skywriters Tour. In an effort to bring Big 12 fans additional insight into the fall camps from around the Big 12, we have dispatched Wendell Barnhouse and Melanie Weiser on the 2008 Big 12 Virtual Skywriters Tour.