The true litmus test will come Saturday night at 8 p.m.
Opportunity will be on the horizon for No. 17 Miami (2-1) when it hosts 2008 national champion runner-up and No. 8 Oklahoma (2-1) at Land Shark Stadium.
“Big game this week,” said head coach Randy Shannon, whose team lost 51-13 in Norman in the second game of his coaching career. “Like I said before the season, after four games we’ll find out where we are as a football team.”
In preparation for the Sooners while simultaneously washing away memories from the Virginia Tech loss, the team was forced to watch the Hokies game film together as a team, the first time as a whole in Shannon’s era.
“I think the main reason behind it was for everyone to see [what went wrong],” senior captain Jason Fox said. “Normally when you watch it as positions you know who [messed]up in your unit. Now you can see who is not being accountable, who is not giving effort, who is busting it, who is making mistakes as a player.”
Oklahoma, which averages nearly 41 points a game, is an offensive powerhouse averaging 256 passing yards and 196 yards rushing.
The question is who will be leading the Sooner offense. Heisman Trophy winner and redshirt junior Sam Bradford, who missed the last two games due to a shoulder injury, is questionable.
But there was a question about Bradford’s ability two seasons ago when he faced the Hurricanes in his second career start. Bradford led the Sooners with five passing touchdowns and put 51 points on the board.
“We are preparing for a quarterback,” senior defensive back Chavez Grant said. “It doesn’t matter who it’s going to be. Both of them have to throw the football; the o-line still has to block and receivers still have to run routes.”
Since going down against BYU, Bradford has been replaced by redshirt freshman Landry Jones. He threw six touchdown passes, which is an Oklahoma record, in his last start against Tulsa, and had plenty of support from elusive junior running back DeMarco Murray.
“Offensively, the offense hasn’t stopped,” Shannon said. “They are making plays. It’s the same offense. Last year to this year, it hasn’t changed at all.”
The Sooners have only allowed 14 points this entire season, all of which came in a loss against the BYU Cougars. Oklahoma leads the nation in scoring defense after allowing just 4.67 points a game and has shut out its last two opponents.
“They have a talented front seven,” said sophomore quarterback Jacory Harris, who has 806 passing yards and five touchdowns in three games. “They have the Big 12 Player of the Year, some wonderful and talented depth. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be one of the hardest defenses we’ll face this year and we have to step it up.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.