Trevor Knight Era Characterizes Shift In Offensive Philosophy
When it comes to basic strategy and general philosophies in the game of football, it's all cyclical, really. The personnel groupings change along with the offensive schemes. But it's always more or less a reinvention of what we may have seen from years before.
Over the last decade, we watched most teams in the Big 12 evolve their offense into a pass-heavy spread attack; also known as "air raid." As time went on, more teams adapted in a similar fashion across the country. A growing number shifted away from even huddling after each play.
The spread offense is alive and well in Norman, Oklahoma. It was on display once again in OU's 34-0 shutout of ULM. How it's utilized there may never be the same after incorporating the quarterback "read option."
"The people think we all can do it. But just to run it is a time investment," said Sooners head coach Bob Stoops during Monday's media press conference. "It's a big time investment. You ask anyone who runs the option, you don't just run it. It has to be drilled, and drilled, and drilled. There's a huge time investment."
One that paid off in Saturday's opener. Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight's first career start came with some anxiety; translating into numerous incomplete passes and a scoreless opening quarter.
The Sooners from a year ago would be all but guaranteed to lose if their starting quarterback's final stat line was 11 of 28 passing for 86 yards. But Knight also ran for 103 yards on 13 carries. He became the first OU quarterback to rush for over a 100 yards in a game since Jason White.
Knight's ability to run kept the Sooners moving forward in the second quarter. And looking at the offensive numbers by the end of the night, the Sooners production was a lot different than we've become accustomed.
Total offense: 429 yards
Passing offense: 124 yards
Rushing Offense: 305 yards
"I said you know this is the first time I've really seen it flip-flop," said senior running back Brennan Clay. "Normally we go the other way where it's 400 yards passing and 90 rushing. So it's a big difference."
It's not like we would expect a running back to complain about getting to run the ball more. Especially one from a backfield which has three senior tailbacks (Clay, Damian Williams, Roy Finch) along with two freshmen newcomers (Alex Ross, Keith Ford) who are already seeing some touches.
What also makes this offense much more conventional is how it seemed to lengthen Oklahoma's time of possession-- giving the defense a little more rest.
"I'll never care about a 1 minute [drive] as long as it ends in a touchdown. But... yes, it does aid the defense and [defensive] statistics when you eat up the clock. I mean there's no denying it."
When head coach Bob Stoops was asked how many games did he usually expect a new starting quarterback to settle into the position, Stoops quickly replied, "Hopefully one."
If that's the case, OU's offense may prove to be even more effective in Saturday's Big 12 opener against West Virginia.