Should Oklahoma Worry Trevor Knight Underwhelmed in Sooners' 2014 Spring Game?

Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterApril 14, 2014

Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight (9) avoids a tackle during the annual NCAA college spring football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Alonzo Adams

Quarterback Trevor Knight was the star of Oklahoma's Sugar Bowl win over Alabama and thus the main storyline during spring practice.

However, he was far from the star of Saturday's spring game. 

Stats don't tell the whole story; they're more of a snapshot. Still, Knight underwhelmed statistically speaking, with a 5-of-14 passing performance and an interception. Not helping matters was Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield, who stole the show by completing all nine of his pass attempts with a pair of touchdowns. 

Of course, Mayfield won't be eligible to compete in 2014 thanks to NCAA transfer rules. Otherwise, there may have been an interesting storyline developing this summer. 

In the meantime, Knight is the established starter. So should fans worry about his performance over the weekend?

Not yet. Knight had a rough day. It just so happened to be in front of 43,000 fans. Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel admitted in a press conference that Saturday "was not [Knight's] best performance."

"It’s a constant process of continuing to get better and understanding defenses. He’s by no means a finished product," Heupel said of Knight. "The great thing about him is he’s going to come to work tomorrow and keep pushing himself to get better."

The Oklahoma coaches see Knight every day. They see his progress and where he still needs to improve. Fans and media don't have that luxury, so it would be premature to make a solid conclusion about Knight after one day's worth of reps. 

Head coach Bob Stoops explained in a press conference:

A little bit of the defense. It’s not easy throwing it on [cornerback] Zack Sanchez every day. Especially when he sees you every day, goes against you in pass skeleton every day, and in team. All of a sudden those receivers are squeezed and again, it isn’t one guy. If they’re not open, no one is going to look good. At the end of the day, the disadvantage for the offense is always the case that the defense is so familiar with them. They know by formation, what their routes are and it makes it harder. He needs all of his linemen out there for it to work different as well.

There may be some coach speak in Stoops' comments, but he's also correct about what Knight faces in practice. The Sooners should have one of the best returning defenses in the Big 12. 

It's also possible for Knight to effectively run the offense without having a great day throwing the ball. The ground game looked solid with inexperienced running backs David Smith (nine carries, 30 yards and a touchdown) and Daniel Brooks (eight carries, 67 yards) showing off. 

Baker Mayfield (left)
Baker Mayfield (left)Alonzo Adams

As long as Knight is playing, the Sooners are geared to be a run-first offense. That's true no matter how much he improves as a passer. Getting the run game down is paramount, and it sounds like the Sooners accomplished that. 

Were Knight's numbers disappointing? Sure. But his passing performance wasn't going to make or break the offense. 

Oklahoma's coaches would like to see Knight begin preseason practice on the right foot. That shows he put in the necessary work during the summer to improve.

Only if Knight looks shaky early in the season should fans begin to worry. 


Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes cited unless obtained firsthand.