As the Red River Shootout unfolded between the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns, it was obvious that Sooners quarterback Blake Bell was having a rough day. At no point throughout the afternoon was Bell able to establish himself as the type of running threat that has provided him with one of the most dangerous reputations among quarterbacks in the Big 12 Conference. Whether it was the Texas defense that made things difficult for him, or it was just one of those afternoons is hard to say, but Oklahoma’s stubborn insistence on playing him for a full 60 minutes regardless of his struggles was baffling to say the least.
Oklahoma has another very talented dual-threat quarterback on the roster in redshirt freshman Trevor Knight who was the starter for the Sooners during the early season and has shown plenty of promise and a leadership ability that’s natural and refined. Knight started the first two contests of the 2013 season for the Sooners against Louisiana-Monroe and the West Virginia Mountaineers, going 21-48 for 205 yards passing and four touchdowns, but also threw three picks. Knight also tallied 169 yards rushing through three contests, highlighted by his 104 yards rushing against Louisiana-Monroe in the season opener.
While the Texas Tech defensive unit isn’t the most vaunted in the Big 12, they are more capable than most people realize. The Red Raiders’ 31st ranked defense is highlighted by the country’s 23rd best rushing defense, one that has plenty of potential to make things difficult for Oklahoma starting RB Brennan Clay as well as Blake Bell should Bob Stoops choose to use more designed running plays for him on Saturday than were utilized against Texas.
Even though Blake Bell has improved as a throwing quarterback in 2013 from 2012, there’s little doubt that he’s still a run-first quarterback whose success and overall momentum depends upon him picking up consistent yardage on the ground. If the Tech defense is able to get penetration early and often, a replay of the Texas success in doing the same could easily be in the cards. At this point, Bob Stoops would have a very similar decision as that he had to make against Texas.
Does he stick — stubbornly — with Blake Bell at quarterback even if his primary talent is being neutralized? Does he turn to Trevor Knight for a new spark? Does that present too much of a risk?
Bell has already failed to produce in one scenario along these lines, so there’s no reason for it to be reasonable for Stoops to resist giving Knight an opportunity if worse comes to worse. In short, the season would be on the line at that point, and high tension sometimes demands high risk.
Trevor Knight must be that risk if the time comes.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and Business Analyst for Rant Sports.