Over the past several years, the Oklahoma Sooners have been known as a football team that would throw up and down the field effortlessly. The Sooners took advantage of skilled passers such as Jason White, Sam Bradford and Landry Jones, shaping their offensive identity around these sure-armed quarterbacks.
This year seems to be a completely different story.
Just two weeks into the season, the Sooners are having trouble finding a rhythm in their passing game and much of the offense is reliant on the legs of running backs Brennan Clay and Damien Williams.
True freshman quarterback Trevor Knight was named the starting QB before the season despite many believing that honor would be given to fan favorite Blake Bell.
In his first two starts, Knight has gone 21-of-48 passing with four touchdowns and three interceptions. His dismal passing last Saturday against West Virginia forced Sooners head coach Bob Stoops to replace Knight with Bell early in the fourth quarter.
You'd have to say Trevor Knight is passing the ball WORSE tonight than in the opener. The int.in WVU's end zone is OU's 3rd turnover @kfor— Bob Barry, Jr. (@bbjsports) September 8, 2013
Despite being subbed in for Knight at a crucial point in the game, Bell did not get many opportunities to prove himself, getting only one pass and two rushing attempts.
The junior accounted for 11 touchdowns last season at the QB position. He mostly entered into games in goal-line situations and even had an offensive package named after him called the "Belldozer" package.
With great size at 6'6", 252 pounds, Bell has the ability to power his way through the defensive line for short-yardage pickups.
love that Trevor Knight....great attitude when Blake Bell goes into the game, clapping for him #fullsupport— Bill Jones (@ou_billjones) September 8, 2013
Bell is not known for his passing ability, which is why Knight was given the starting job this season. But without a QB that can pass effectively, Stoops might have to reevaluate the Sooners' offensive identity.
The running game saved the Sooners in Saturday night's matchup with the Mountaineers, as Clay and Williams combined for 165 rushing yards. Bell provided 21 additional yards on just two carries.
Nevertheless, it seems change is necessary for the Sooners' offensive identity this season. They do not have the privilege of watching Landry Jones throw up and down the field like last season, and since the Sooners do have a capable rusher in Bell at the QB position, it may be time for the Sooners to adjust.
Transitioning to a ground-and-pound offense is not necessarily a bad thing either.
Before the Jason White era, the Sooners were known for a tough, schematic running game that proved successful with multiple national championships. Does anyone recall the Sooners teams featuring running back greats Billy Sims, Greg Pruitt, Joe Washington or Steve Owens?
The Clay-Williams dual threat has the potential to be very effective this season for the Sooners. It may not be comparable to the rushing seasons of any of the greats previously mentioned, but it does not have to be as long as the Sooners defense continues to prevent offenses from putting up many points.
Needless to say, the Sooners' coaching staff will have a few issues concerning the offense to resolve this week before heading to Tulsa this Saturday.
Will a change take place in the Sooners' offensive identity? Only time will tell.