The Miami Hurricanes don't know who is going to start at quarterback Saturday night for Oklahoma. It could be Heisman trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford. Or, it could be freshman Landry Jones, who set a Sooners record with six TD passes in his last start.
Here's the truth: It doesn't matter who is throwing the ball if the Hurricanes defense doesn't turn things around quickly. Nationally, UM ranks 85th in scoring defense (27.33 ppg) among 119 FBS teams, 86th against run (159 ypg), and 89th in passing effeciency defense. They haven't been getting to the quarterback (4 sacks in 3 games) or creating turnovers (two fumble recoveries and one interception) either. But the biggest problem? Tackling.
"Watching film this week was real tough," linebacker Colin McCarthy said. "Tackling, getting guys on the ground is really what we're struggling with. People are in the right situation, in the right position. We're just not doing what we're supposed to. Watching the film was ridiculous. Coach said of the [272 yards] we gave up to V-Tech, 163 yards were after contact. We have to fix that."
Fixing it will become a priority this week -- moreso than worrying about what the eight-ranked Sooners do. And what Oklahoma has done has been pretty impressive. Their 40.67 scoring average ranks eighth in the country and their 18th-ranked offense is dangerously balanced attack (196 yards rushing per game, 256 yards passing).
"We can't just focus on the pass because they've got guys who can run the ball real well," said cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, who was torched by Bradford and the Sooners offense in a 51-13 loss as a freshman. "It's all about assignment and technique, assignment and technique for us."
> Look for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to announce his starting quarterback later this week. Stoops said Bradford, who visited specialist Dr. James Andrews over the weekend for a second opinion on his injured throwing shoulder, has been making positive improvements throughout practice. "We just have to feel comfortable that he's healthy, that he feels good enough to make the throws he needs to make and that he's ready to do it."
> Don't expect to see senior safety Randy Phillips back for the Oklahoma game. Word is his injured forearm is going to need some time to heal. Miami will likely go with a mix of Jojo Nicolas and Jared Campbell in his place.