With Blake Bell at quarterback this year, Oklahoma’s offense has looked like a hodgepodge of disparate styles and philosophies. The Sooners were throwing a collection of plays up against the wall with little discernible rhyme or reason. Nothing really stuck.
Whatever hopes fans harbored that OU’s blowout loss against Baylor would force offensive coordinator Josh Heupel to pick the right lane were dashed in Saturday’s early action against Iowa State. OU slogged through a lackluster first quarter in which the team’s two offensive drives netted a total of 15 yards.
So what sparked the Sooners to a 48-10 Senior Day rout of the Cyclones? Unfortunately for Bell, his injury essentially forced OU to commit to an offensive identity. It resulted in three quarters of what appeared to be the most dangerous O that OU has mustered all season.
Primarily with Trevor Knight operating the read option, the Sooners managed to roll up 405 yards on the ground, averaging 9.2 yards per carry. They snapped off scoring runs of 69, 63 and 56 yards and had two players, Knight and running back Damien Williams, who topped the century mark in rushing. With the passing game flailing, OU ran the ball 32 times with Knight behind center versus just 14 throws.
The same accuracy issues that plagued Knight in the first two games of the year showed up Saturday, too. Most noticeably, he lacked touch on deep balls and swing passes. On the other hand, the forced throws and unforced errors weren’t there, either.
Much like Bell’s dynamite day against lowly Tulsa, OU tore up a pretty poor defense yesterday. Knight lost the job in the first place on account of some iffy decision making. The Cyclones really didn’t have the personnel to put Knight in any situations to test him and were probably caught somewhat flat-footed by the switch. It's entirely possible that contributed more than anything else to the offense's explosiveness.
That won’t be the case in OU’s final two games (assuming that Bob Stoops stays with Knight). The Purple Wizard awaits this week in Manhattan, and he’ll be certain to conjure up some diabolical defensive chicanery to bait Knight into mistakes. In the Bedlam game, OU will face arguably the conference’s best defense and front four.
Oh, and Knight has yet to really play on the road.
Yesterday marked the first time that Knight has seen extended offensive action since he lost the job in the second game of the year against West Virginia. It was obvious he needed game action at that time to get comfortable, as did the rest of the team. No one got that repetition in the seven games that followed. The Sooners won’t exactly be turning around around the battleship on offense, but they will again be making a move midstream.
In the short term, the good news for Sooner Nation is that Knight’s skill set forces Heupel’s hand with the offensive game plan. The Sooners appeared lost with Bell behind center. At the very least, playing Knight gives them a direction.