Trevor Knight was Bob Stoops‘ surprise pick to be the new starting quarterback for the Oklahoma Sooners, and while his first-half jitters had fans clamoring for backup Blake Bell, the redshirt freshman overcame his early struggles to lead the Sooners to a 34-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe.
The first freshman to start at quarterback for Oklahoma since Sam Bradford in 2007, Knight ran for more than 100 yards and threw for three touchdowns — despite completing just 39% of his passes.
It certainly wasn’t the brand of offensive firepower OU has had in recent seasons with Bradford and Landry Jones (Jones broke Bradford’s passing records but finished with -375 career rushing yards at OU), but it worked.
The Sooners gained 305 yards on the ground compared to the Warhawks’ 38, and Knight became the first OU quarterback to rush for more than 100 yards in a single game since Jason White in 2001, and the first since Eric Moore in 1998 to gain more yards rushing than passing.
Knight tossed one interception during the game, on an incomplete pass to Trey Metoyer that was ruled an interception following video replay, but during the first half, he had three balls batted at the line of scrimmage that could have easily been turnovers.
In his defense, he was a freshman quarterback starting his first college game. Nerves were expected, and Knight seemed to relax as the game progressed and the Sooners’ lead grew. He may have found his go-to guy in receiver Jalen Saunders, who caught two Knight touchdown passes in his first multi-TD game as a Sooner.
Whether fans were criticizing or praising Knight, the consensus was that he’s a smart, fast, mobile quarterback who really needs to work on his passing game. (Those who wanted Bell to enter the game in relief overlooked the preseason questions about Bell’s arm.)
Against stronger competition later this season, a completion rate higher than 39% would be nice, if not essential, but Knight should improve as he gains experience. He may never put up the same kind of record-breaking numbers as his predecessors, but he won’t need to if he can keep winning by making big plays on the run — and that might be a good thing for the Sooners.
In Norman, the goal is always a national title, but OU hasn’t been to a BCS bowl game since 2010 and hasn’t made it to the championship game since 2008, when the team fell to Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. A new quarterback with different abilities and a new style of play might be just the thing to spark the offense and help put the Sooners back on top.