NORMAN — It didn’t take long for tackle Trent Williams to realize the quarterback he would be protecting this year was better than the one he protected last year.
"We were on the sidelines with the second team on the field, and he was calling the touchdown before it even happened,” Williams recalled of a recent practice. "Right after that, they hit the play and scored. I was like, ‘He must be a wizard or something.’ "It blew my mind he could read a defense like that from the sideline.” It may be hard to believe quarterback Sam Bradford could be any better than last season when he won the Heisman Trophy. But ask Bradford’s coaches and teammates, and that’s exactly what he is. Said wide receiver Adron Tennell, "You can tell he’s better than ever before.” Said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, "It looks evident as we practice.” Said coach Bob Stoops, "He’s stronger, bigger; the ball comes out of his hand even faster, if that was possible. He’s every bit as consistent or better. And with another year of experience out on the field, he’ll think much quicker, too.” Besides adding about 10 more pounds of muscle to his frame, Bradford, as Williams found out earlier this preseason, has become more adept at reading defenses after spending countless hours in the film room over the offseason. "There are always things that (quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel) points out on game film,” Bradford said. "I might think I played perfect, that I played great. Then I’ll come in, even on a completion, maybe I went to the wrong receiver and there was a chance for a bigger play that I didn’t see. Every day we see things in the film room that maybe I can be sharper at, recognizing defenses, recognizing blitzes quicker than I have in the past.” OU’s defensive backs have noticed, often to their own detriment, that Bradford is sharper than ever at reading defenses. "Just him being able to see the field more,” said cornerback Dom Franks. "He knows even more what he’s looking at.” The other area where Bradford’s teammates recognize another significant improvement is with leadership, which has been a benefit to a relatively young and inexperienced wide receiving unit.