Oklahoma City Before the season started, Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator talked about preparing the Sooners to deal with an injury to Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.
The worst-case scenario became reality Saturday night, and the result was a season-opening 14-13 upset at the hands of BYU.
Now, with no timetable for their star quarterback’s return, the Sooners are looking for Plan C — or at least a revised Plan B.
“Whether he is here or is not here for this week and the weeks to come, we’re sitting right here at 0-1, and we’ve got to buckle it up and get moving in a quick direction and a positive direction,” offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said Sunday.
ESPN.com reported Sunday night that Bradford already had begun physical rehabilitation and hoped to avoid surgery.
Oklahoma’s medical staff was still taking a look at treatment options for Bradford. The injury to Bradford’s right, throwing shoulder has been called a sprained AC joint. Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter missed two games last season and played as a reserve three weeks after injuring the joint.
Wilson said a similar process is ongoing for second-team All-America tight end Jermaine Gresham, who has cartilage damage in his right knee and didn’t play against BYU.
“Those are not just necessarily for our team, but those are two tremendous players that have great futures. We want to make sure their best interest is taken into consideration with what’s being done,” Wilson said.
“There’s no rush. There’s no judgments.”
Only four days before he was hurt, Bradford described how he’d taken out an insurance policy after he decided to pass up the chance to be a first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft and instead pursue a national championship at Oklahoma.
The Sooners have no such policy, but they have been through this before. Starting quarterback Jason White got hurt in both 2001 and 2002, prior to his Heisman Trophy run. Adrian Peterson was a season and a half removed from being the Heisman runner-up when he broke his collarbone in 2006 and missed seven games.
Two of those three seasons ended with Oklahoma still winning the Big 12 championship and going to a BCS bowl.
“We do have a track record here,” Wilson said. “We’ve lost some guys through the years. It is a part of the game. You don’t want it. You don’t want it for anyone, but I do think we’ve shown that we do have the ability to adjust and we do have a bunch of good players here that will rally and pick it up.”
If Bradford is unable to return in time for Saturday’s home opener against Idaho State — and more importantly for games against Tulsa on Sept. 19 and at Miami on Oct. 3 — the Sooners have more issues to deal with than just the loss of their star quarterback.
A rebuilt offensive line with four new starters committed nine penalties as part of what Wilson called “a tremendous comedy of errors.” With so much going wrong around him, red-shirt freshman Landry Jones had little chance for success while replacing Bradford in his college debut. He guided Oklahoma on five drives, netting only one field goal.
Even when Bradford was in the game, Oklahoma was outgained by BYU 245 yards to 164 in the first half.
“If we go out there and play behind chains and our protection is not clean ... or our receivers are dropping balls or we’re having penalties or balls on the ground, like any quarterback, he’s not going to play good,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he’s most disappointed that the sloppy play came from veterans who had played in big games before, although they were reserves instead of starters at the time.
“We’re not going to make wholesale changes, but right now, (Saturday) night is what we are. That was evident. That’s what we are,” Wilson said. “We need to make some significant improvement to be the team that we’re capable of being. Right now, it’s disappointing to play that way.”