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Bradford Talks About Sooner Experience
Coming June 5th: 2008 Football Preview Issue!
OU Quarterback Has Enjoyed a Whirlwind Year As He Readies for 2008
A quick peek at OU's 2007 football media guide reveals a Sam Bradford
profile that barely stretches a paragraph long. To be honest, there
wasn't a whole lot of information floating around about the then-Sooner
quarterback prospect, other than the fact he redshirted his freshman
season and was a three-sport letterman at Putnam City North High
As anyone who was paying attention to the Sooners' fortunes last fall
knows, Bradford took it upon himself to add more than just a few lines
to his resume and bio. He won the starting QB job after a
hotly-contested battle with Keith Nichol and Joey Halzle, and then
proceeded to lead Bob Stoops' squad to the Big 12 Conference title.
Along the way, Bradford set several school records for passing and
eventually led the nation in passing efficiency. He established a new
NCAA standard for touchdown passes by a freshman (36) and earned
Freshman All-America honors.
Bradford's performance in '07 was, to put it mildly, amazing. And his
OU career has only just begun.
Sooner Spectator caught up with the strong-armed signal caller during
spring practice recently and talked to him about the secret to his
sudden success, the key to sustaining it and much more.
Sooner Spectator: The last 12 months have probably been a whirlwind for
you. Have you had time to sit down and reflect on everything that
Sam Bradford: There have been some times, especially during breaks,
when I've had a little time to look back. After the bowl game, I think
those two weeks I really did sit down and think about how this whole
thing has unfolded, beginning with spring ball (2007) and where I
progressed to after the bowl game. But to be honest, with school and
getting back into the offseason program, there isn't much time to think
about the past. You have to stay focused on the future and what you
need to do to get ready for next season.
SS: What was your most memorable moment about the 2007 season?
Bradford: There were so many moments in games and during the season,
but I'd probably have to say the OU-Texas game and the Big 12
Championship -- just getting to be a part of those two huge wins was
really special. Playing against Texas is something I've grown up
dreaming about and then to be a part of a team that won the Big 12
title -- that's pretty special.
SS: Going back and looking at the experience you gained from playing in
big games like the ones you just mentioned, how will that benefit you
going into the 2008 season and beyond?
Bradford: I feel being in those games, playing in those types of
pressure situations, knowing what to expect and how to deal with that
kind of intensity -- hopefully, I'll have an edge on preparing myself
and have a better understanding of what it takes to win those types of
SS: What goals did you set for yourself during the spring and on into
the 2008 season ahead?
Bradford: Personally, I want to come out bigger and stronger, which
means working hard in the offseason. Work on my arm strength and
everything that goes with being a quarterback at this level. There are
some little things with mechanics I'm continuing to improve on. I want
to further establish myself in a leadership role on this team, and I
feel I need to take more command of the offense. As for the team, focus
on the Big 12 championship first and then we'll see where that takes
SS: Are you confident in all of the guys coming back around you at
receiver and running back?
Bradford: Definitely. We have so much talent out there around me, you
look out there and see playmakers everywhere. It take so much of the
pressure off of me knowing I've got so many guys out there who are
going to step up and do great things when called on.
SS: Has it been different not having Malcolm Kelly to throw to during
Bradford: It's definitely different not having Malcolm out there and
not having that big target. But we've still got a lot of talented wide
receivers here. With Quentin (Chaney) and Manny (Johnson) out there and
Juaquin (Iglesias), it's been pretty normal. Obviously, you'd like to
have that one guy you know can go out there and you trust him enough to
throw the ball up to him and you know he's going to go get it for you.
But at the same time, right there's three guys that can go out there
and do it. Having that one (go-to) guy helps -- but three, that's cool
with me, too. We also have some young guys anxious to step up and show
what they can do, so I'm excited about our receivers.
SS: Besides the skill position guys, you're also surrounded by a very
veteran offensive line. What does that do for your confidence, knowing
that group of guys has your back every single play?
Bradford: It makes all the difference in the world. For example, if I
see a blitz situation and know that's coming, I'm confident my guys are
going to pick it up. I know they all know what they are supposed to do,
and they're going to make the right calls and the right slides and
they're going to pick it up and I'm going to be protected. That
knowledge gives you the confidence to stay in the pocket maybe a
half-second longer and make the right throw.
SS: Can you talk about your overall progression from point A to point
B, from the time you arrived as a freshman to where you are now?
Bradford: I think if you would pull up a tape of from my first fall
camp at OU and just watched it for a little while, you'd probably say
there is no way he's the same player. I think a lot of that is Coach
Heupel. He stayed on me and worked me hard. I wasn't ready to play my
redshirt season, especially from a mental standpoint. I'll admit there
were times when I just wanted a little break, but looking back now,
I've benefited so much from the way he pushed me and has continued to
push me. It's hard to describe how different a player I am from point A
to point B. The difference is pretty much night and day.
SS: You progressed so much from the first game of 2007 to the Fiesta
Bowl, do you feel you still have room for improvement?
Bradford: Without a doubt. I talked earlier about getting stronger and
working on some of my mechanics. I put on around 12 pounds this winter
working with Coach Schmidt in the weight room and I feel that's going
to help my arm strength to some degree. Also, being bigger, I feel will
help with taking hits and not getting banged up during the season.
SS: Coach Stoops always talks about how every starting job is earned
every day in practice and workouts. Since you are the returning
starter, do you feel this is your job?
Bradford: You can't take anything for granted. That would be a mistake.
There are three other quarterbacks out there trying to win the job and
nothing is guaranteed. You have to earn it. I know I'm going to have to
go out every day and prove that I belong on the field and that I should
be the starter. I still look at it as a competition and I know I have
go out there and win the job single day.
SS: In your mind, how good can this offense be going into the fall and
as you progress through the season?
Bradford: Real good. I think we have a chance to be better than we were
last year. There is no doubt in mind that we can be. It's all up to us
and how we approach the season and the attitude that we bring. If we
come out and play disciplined football, execute and be physical,
there's no telling how good we can be. We definitely have the personnel
to do some great things. The key is putting it all together, playing
together and getting the job done.
SS: How much motivation does this group take from the way OU's last two
seasons have ended?
Bradford: Obviously, to lose two years in a row like that, and to lose
the way we did this year, it's definitely motivating. We actually have
a banner in our weight room. We see it every day. We see the scoreboard
from the game every day. So we know what it was like to end the season
that way. We obviously want to come back and start stronger and finish
stronger next year.
(Editor's Note: This Interview appears in the April 2008 issue of
Sooner Spectator. To Subscribe for only $34.95, call toll free 1-877-841-8877)