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Sports

August 27, 2013

Sooners’ QB showing why he got the nod

NORMAN – The decision to go with Trevor Knight at starting quarterback is going to analyzed until the redshirt freshman shows why he beat out junior Blake Bell for Oklahoma’s quarterback job.

Since Knight’s only public showing was April’s spring game, there isn’t much to judge.

However, his teammates and coach gave their insight into what he’ll bring to the table Monday.

“The things he can do on the run are very impressive,” OU center Gabe Ikard said. “He’s very athletic and when he gets in the open field he can go. There were several moments in camp where you knew he was fast.”

OU coach Bob Stoops, he made his first public comments since naming Knight the starter last week, said it wasn’t one particular aspect or trait that won Knight the job. It was an entire body of work.

“I think it’s just fair to say that overall, through all these practices, there’s just been a little more consistency in the different areas that we’ve been looking for,” Stoops said.

Whatever it is that won Knight the job will be on display when the 16th-ranked Sooners play host to Louisiana-Monroe Saturday in the season opener.

The game will unveil all the changes OU has made since the 2012 season ended with a blowout loss to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

One of the major changes expected are all the intangibles that go along with a quarterback who can run.

“He’s a freak athlete. He’s really fast,” fullback Trey Millard said. “You saw a little bit of that in some of the spring game. He can definitely run the ball and run it quickly. As far as the quarterback stuff goes he’s a great thrower. He’s still learning some of the reads. He’s still growing as a player, but he’s going to be a good one.”

How good remains to be seen. Linebacker Corey Nelson set the bar pretty high Monday, comparing him to Texas A&M Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.

“ I feel like if you put him in Texas A&M’s offense, the same way they have with Manziel and you take Manziel out, it will be the exact same Texas A&M offense that they have,” Nelson said. “His skills are equivalent to Manziel’s. He’s able to run, he’s so mobile and he can throw it on the run. He’s outstanding.”

Stoops is still tight-lipped about what it will all mean for the offense. He’s entering his 15th season as head coach. Outside of Bell in the short-yardage package OU has run the last two years, the quarterback has never been part of the run game. Nor have they been asked do much other than throw from the pocket.

Both are expected to change.

“That’s something we’ll see as it goes, but there will be, just, some,” Stoops said.

As far as what that means for Bell, Stoops said there’s still a role for him in the game plan. The coach and his teammates went out of their way to heap praise on the junior. After all, he spent last season, the spring and the initial part of preseason practices as the presumptive next in line at the position.

Stoops insists Bell still has a role beyond the second spot on the quarterback depth chart.

For one, the short-yardage package Bell has quarterbacked for 24 touchdowns over the last two seasons is still in use.

“We’ll feel comfortable even expanding on that and giving him more opportunities other ways in that package,” he said.

The other issue that is still hanging out there is Knight will be playing in his career game Saturday. It’s the one part of the quarterback competition that is still incomplete. Neither has been the starting quarterback before.

What happens against Louisiana-Monroe will decide whether or not there’s another phase to the quarterback competition.

OU’s excited about Knight’s potential, but it needs see it on the field in the real game before it’s finally settled.

“I think it’s fair to say we’ll see as it goes, you know, what we do and don’t do with the two of them,” Stoops said. “I think a lot of it is predicated by what happens once he’s on the field.”

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