Those outside the Oklahoma football program were shocked when Bob Stoops announced Trevor Knight had won the Sooners’ starting quarterback job last week.
Instead of handing the keys to Oklahoma’s offense to Blake Bell, an experienced and popular junior, he gave them to a redshirt freshman who had spent most of his time on the scout team.
You don’t see that decision often, but it speaks to the quality of play Knight must have shown coaches behind closed doors during preseason practices.
“Some of the things he did a year ago while he was being redshirted going against our defense every day, he was incredibly consistent every day and made a lot of throws showed the ability to run around and make some plays,” Stoops said Monday. “On the scout team, he showed the ability to provide leadership. He continued that.”
Most figured a tie likely would have gone to Bell, the heir apparent and former Bishop Carroll standout. Knight must have outperformed Bell by a sizable margin.
Still, Bell will play in Saturday’s opener against Louisiana-Monroe. The Sooners have had to turn to backup quarterbacks in the past, and Stoops wants Bell to prepare each week as if he is the starter.
“These guys have worked really hard, but again we want to keep developing Blake,” Stoops said. “You never know where these situations will lead, so you want to make sure and he is ready to play.”
Playing multiple quarterbacks is a growing trend across the Big 12.
Outside of Texas, Kansas, Iowa State and Baylor — the four programs that long ago named a starting quarterback — the majority of teams across the league are preparing to play multiple quarterbacks. K-State coach Bill Snyder named Jake Waters his starter Monday, but said Daniel Sams will also play in Friday’s opener. Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy won’t pick a starter until game day, but said Monday he will use two quarterbacks against Mississippi State. Expect the same from TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech.
We may see 16 quarterbacks before September.
“We are going to play both players,” Gundy said. “It’s two guys who deserve to play in the game so we will play both of them.”
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State don’t usually play multiple quarterbacks. Will that hurt them this season? Or will extra versatility give them an advantage?
Stoops is optimistic. At the least, he says Bell will continue to see action the way he did as an underclassman. Bell will remain in charge of the “Belldozer” formation that made him so popular as a short-yardage specialist.
“No sense in tipping our hand how much or how little we will do it,” Stoops said. “But it is fair to say we led the league last year in third-down conversions and red-zone offense. That part of the package has been pretty consistent for us. It is something I would envision us still having.”
Big 12 vs. SEC can wait
A lot is being made of the Big 12’s three nonconference games against the SEC. Too much, if you ask me.
The games are TCU-LSU, Oklahoma State-Mississippi State and Texas-Mississippi. All three should be entertaining, but they shouldn’t determine which conference is stronger the way some are suggesting.
This isn’t an official challenge between conferences, which exists in basketball. This isn’t Oklahoma-Alabama or Kansas-Kentucky, where every team is pitted against a comparable opponent. They are simply three nonconference games. No different than Texas at BYU. Conference supremacy isn’t, or at least shouldn’t, be on the line.
Let that discussion wait until bowl season.
They like watching football, too
What will Kansas coach Charlie Weis ask of his team on Saturday?
The Jayhawks are off until next week, so he has plenty of choices. He could simulate a live game, give his team the day off or practice like usual.
But Weis has chosen none of the above. Monday, he said he will conduct an Saturday morning practice so Kansas players and coaches can watch as much football as possible throughout the day.
Ranking this week’s Big 12 games
Order a pizza, lose the remote: Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi State (Houston), TCU vs. LSU (Arlington, Texas).
Watch on split screen: Texas Tech at SMU (Friday), North Dakota State at K-State (Friday).
If you get the channel: Northern Iowa at Iowa State, New Mexico State at Texas.
There’s got to be something better on: William & Mary at West Virginia, Wofford at Baylor, Louisiana-Monroe at Oklahoma.
1. Oklahoma: Trevor Knight and Blake Bell should revolutionize the Sooners’ offense.
2. Texas: Lots of returning starters should make for an easy opener.
3. Oklahoma State: Beat Mississippi State, then we’ll talk about the No. 1 spot.
4. TCU: Beat LSU, then you will have the No. 1 spot.
5. Kansas State: The offense is in good hands with Jake Waters. Bigger questions reside on defense.
6. Baylor: Easiest nonconference schedule in the nation.
7. Texas Tech: Let the Kliff Kingsbury era begin.
8. Iowa State: Cyclones fans are ready for football. Season tickets are sold out.
9. West Virginia: Second year in Big 12 will be worse than the first.
10. Kansas: Jayhawks get an extra week to prepare.