Oklahoma Should Go into 2014 with Open Competition at Quarterback

Ben Kercheval@@BenKerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterNovember 26, 2013

Nov 23, 2013; Manhattan, KS, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Trevor Knight (9) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas State Wildcats during the first half at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Besides Baylor, the quarterback spot has been, in one form or another, a revolving door at programs across the Big 12 this year.

Oklahoma has had its share of quarterback issues, starting redshirt freshman Trevor Knight and redshirt junior Blake Bell at various times. 

With only one game left—at Oklahoma State—there hasn't been an overwhelming separation between the two. Bell is still recovering from a head injury, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Knight finish the year against the Cowboys. 

However, head coach Bob Stoops wouldn't tip his hand. 

In any case, once spring rolls around, it should be an open competition for the job—just as it was a year ago.

That competition shouldn't be limited to just Knight and Bell, either. It should at least start with a four-way battle with Kendal Thompson and Cody Thomas. 

Knight started the season—which was, at the time, considered a preseason position battle upset.

However, a knee injury suffered in the second game of the year against West Virginia ended up sidelining Knight for five of the next six games. Only when Bell sustained his head injury against Iowa State in Week 12 did Knight return as the No. 1 guy. 

Knight and Bell took turns starting because of injury, but they both had turnover issues and were inconsistent at moving the chains.

Certainly, Knight has looked better the past two games. The offense has settled into a zone-read and option-based running attack, which suits Knight's skill set.

On top of that, Knight has thrown the ball better. 

Other than one pass that landed in the hands of Kansas State defensive back Randall Evans—which wasn't really his fault—he threw accurate darts in a 41-31 win over the Wildcats in Week 13. 

“It’s just one game,” Stoops said Saturday via the Associated Press (H/T Washington Post). “Hopefully we can build on it. I think what’s been obvious through the whole year has been the inconsistency offensively. We’ve put a few here together now.”

Blake Bell
Blake BellRonald Martinez/Getty Images

If Knight can put one more consistent effort together against the Cowboys, even if it's in a losing effort, it's possible he could head into spring practice with an edge.

However, Knight would have to demonstrate that he's grown in his decision making and ball security. Knight may have injured himself out of a job by Week 3, but his three interceptions in two games didn't help his cause. 

Similarly, Bell will have to show he's improved in his accuracy and ability to run the offense.

Of course, part of the issue this year has been that Oklahoma has called plays that simply don't suit Bell's strengths. The 252-pound quarterback isn't going to fool anybody with an option play and he's not at his best in an Air Raid-type playbook. 

Yet, the Sooners have dabbled in both of those areas with Bell in the game.

Results, as one could imagine, were subpar. Just as Bell and Knight must improve in the offseason, the coaching staff has to show a willingness to formulate a game plan that not only suits the personnel they have, but gives them the best chance to win.

Despite the frustrations on offense, Oklahoma still has the chance to win 10 games this year.

That should inspire some confidence that bigger things could be ahead if the Sooners can get better production out of the quarterback spot next year. 

A preliminary guess is that Knight ultimately wins the job.

Stoops saw something in Knight before the season began. If he can make a leap in his development, he would bring more to the Sooners' offense. 

He just needs to be pushed in competition.



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