AUSTIN, Texas — Either the Texas Longhorns orchestrated their answers impeccably Monday, or they are genuinely pleased junior quarterback Sam Bradford has returned to the Oklahoma lineup.
Those who appeared at Texas’ weekly media luncheon insist they’re happy Bradford will be back on the field in time for this week’s Red River Rivalry after missing 3½ games with a separated right (throwing) shoulder. No one in burnt orange appeared to fight the urge to say, "Aw, man. Why couldn’t he have returned next week?” There was an upbeat inflection in Longhorn voices while welcoming back last year’s Heisman Trophy winner. Defensive tackle Lamarr Houston: "Most definitely, I’m happy he’s back. It’s exciting to play somebody who’s got that type of status. He’s a great player.” Defensive end Sergio Kindle: "Me being on the other side of the ball seeing this guy work, he’s amazing. He’s that good.” Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp: "I don’t wish any ill will on any of our opponents and having injuries. You don’t want that to happen. You want to play well against their best players.” Quarterback Colt McCoy: "I’m definitely glad he’s back playing. It makes for a fun week, for sure.” Such wide-ranging support seems suspicious, considering Bradford has completed 49 of 71 passes (.690) for 631 yards and eight touchdowns in two meetings with Texas. If the Longhorns beat the Sooners on Saturday, they want full praise for doing so. For that to happen, Bradford must be on the field and wide receiver Ryan Broyles, too, if he can make it. The ’Horns want no ifs, ands, buts or asterisks attached to Saturday’s outcome. "You really want to play people when they’re at their best, because that’s the only way you get credit for beating them,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. OU fans insist their beloved Sooners would be 5-0 had Bradford been in the lineup, rather than 3-2. That’s a pretty safe assumption, but it’s no guarantee such would be the case. This type of presumptive talk is precisely what the Longhorns wanted to avoid. In an odd way, having Bradford in the starting lineup gives UT a jump in its preparation as opposed to facing backup Landry Jones, who filled in admirably for Bradford.