Bell To Start In Place Of Injured Knight
OU head coach Bob Stoops made it clear on who would be the starting quarterback for Oklahoma in Saturday's game against Tulsa. His exact reasons for doing so were called into question during Monday's regularly scheduled media press conference.
After suffering an apparent knee injury in the final minute of Saturday's first half against West Virginia, the team's training staff cleared Knight to return for the third quarter. After a scoreless quarter which consisted of no rushing attempts made by night and minimal passing completions, the Sooners switched to Blake Bell roughly two minutes into the final quarter.
Bell didn't fare much better but Oklahoma did enough to secure their 16-7 win over West Virginia to open Big 12 conference play. The following day, Knight reportedly visited an area orthopedic specialist who diagnosed the red-shirt freshman's condition as a bruised right knee.
Knight will miss this week and may be limited in their following bye-week. The injury could be perceived as a convenience for the Sooners' coaching staff in regards to why a change is being made at quarterback. Even for a changing offensive philosophy which is shifting away from its pass-heavy approach, Knight's stats through two games (44% completion pct, 205 yds, 4 TD, 3 INT) isn't ideal for a program with conference championship aspirations.
But if there's a half-full way of looking at this ongoing quarterback situation, fourth-year junior Blake Bell's positive attitude served him well despite the fact he was the only one with actual game experience and yet, stepped over.
"The level of football we're at is competitive," said head coach Bob Stoops Monday. "You're going to have your up's and downs. You're going to have to keep working it and usually when you do, things happen [which are] positive for you."
The way senior running back Brennan Clay explains it, both quarterbacks have been positive and supportive of each other because they're friends outside of football. "It doesn't matter who got the nod. Either way, you're one play away so you got be prepared," explained Clay.
As quickly as we became lost in Knight and Bell's quarterback competition, we forgot there was also another promising athlete who came out of spring with a realistic shot of winning the job: sophomore Kendal Thompson. But a fractured foot on the first day of fall practice put an end to that; until Monday.
According to Stoops, team doctors have cleared Thompson to practice and will be taking snaps all week. When asked how close Thompson was to Bell and Knight in the quarterback competition, Stoops replied, "He was very close. He was right there with them."
What's inherent to incorporating any quarterback option run game into an offense is how the QB becomes more prone to injury; increasing the likelihood of multiple quarterbacks seeing real game action.
In two weeks with this new offense, there has already been a game-changing quarterback injuries. The last time that happened was in 2009 when reigning Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford was knocked out of the season opener against BYU and then went down for the season later in the year against Texas.
Coach Stoops acknowledged the potential hazards involved and was well aware of them when they decided to make the changes in their offensive scheme.
"You have to find your [running] lanes as you see them. And multiple times [the quarterback must] slide, get down, get out of bounds, every way known. And even then, you're going to get one [scenario] you can't."
OU safety Gabe Lynn, the Big 12's "Defensive Player of the Week" for his performance against West Virginia, believes the Sooners will get the quarterback situation worked out.
"We know all of them can play so whoever they put out there we have faith in," Lynn said.
"It just takes time. I think they'll get it right."