Did OU Offense Find An Identity Against Iowa State Or Start A QB Controversy? Both? Neither?

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Whatever could there be to discuss regarding Oklahoma's offensive performance against Iowa State?

Maybe the fact the signs were so abundantly obvious that this has to be their offensive identity that even Josh Heupel could not have missed them.

Or we could talk about what needs to happen at quarterback going forward.

You know, just a couple of minor things.

For the first fifteen minutes of the game, Oklahoma's offense looked just as inept as they have all too often this year only this time it was even more alarming because it was happening against Iowa State.  The offense failed to move the ball and spent a better part of the first quarter on the sidelines.

Then on what still looks like a seemingly harmless hit, Blake Bell somehow suffered what we've been led to believe was a concussion and may have just suffered that same fate Trevor Knight did before him.

It was an injury that forced Knight to the sidelines and gave Bell the starting gig, now Bell may have just lost the job because of his own injury.

Speaking of Knight, if you didn't know better one might think that him coming into the game forced Heupel's hand with regards to his play-calling.  Knight's struggles throwing the ball were certainly no secret and at times we saw those same struggles on Saturday.  Which meant Heupel would have to feature both Knight's ability to run the ball as well as the depth OU has at the running back position.

All that led to was a 405 yards on the ground, the most ever in a single game during the Stoops era.

You would have thought after watching his offense struggle as badly as they had all year in OU's previous game against Baylor that even Josh Heupel would have realized some kind of change was necessary.  But nope, it was the same old offense he's been running all year once again and with Bell at the helm we saw them struggle yet again. As unfortunate as it was that an injury to Bell was the only way to provide Heupel with the direction he so desperately needed on where to take this offense, at least now we're at that point.

Well, we think we are.

Bob Stoops was non-committal during the postgame as to who would be Oklahoma's starting quarterback next Saturday in Manhattan against Kansas State.

Though one has to wonder really how much of a decision it could possibly be.  While Knight struggled at times throwing the ball, there is no denying how successful he was running the ball.  And, perhaps more importantly, how the threat he presented running the football created opportunities for others like Damien Williams, Brennan Clay, and Roy Finch.

Sure, it was against Iowa State.  No one with a brain is going to try and convince you all of OU's offensive problems have now been solved, but it's the same Iowa State team Bell was playing against in the first quarter when the Sooners were not moving the ball.

And Stoops certainly did not do himself any favors inserting Kendal Thompson late in the game only to see him drive the offense right down the field capping it off with a perfectly executed play-action touchdown pass to Aaron Ripkowski.

There are still obvious potential problems with Oklahoma running an offense like the one we saw on Saturday, but if nothing else an offense with Knight and/or Thompson under center is an immense improvement from the schizophrenic version of what Heupel was attempting to do with Bell as his QB1.

Ultimately this offense will have to be able to throw the football on a consistent basis and as it stands today, we don't have much reason to believe Knight and/or Thompson are capable of doing that.  But Blake Bell also hasn't proved capable of being that guy either, so isn't it a no-brainer that the running ability of Knight and/or Thompson far outweighs whatever reasons Heupel and Stoops seem to have that convinces them Bell gives them the best chance to win football games?

The other undeniable aspect of the quarterback play on Saturday was the glaringly obvious difference between Bell in the pocket, prior to his injury, and Knight/Thompson in the pocket.  The latter of whom looked much more comfortable and, dare we say, even calm.  Which is significant progress for Knight who looked wildly uncomfortable at times during his first stint at the starter in OU's opening two games.  Even more impressive for a guy like Thompson who was seeing his first ever action as an Oklahoma quarterback in an actual football game.

And at the end of the day, even with their perceived or actual limitations, wouldn't that semblance of stability they appear to offer over Bell at the quarterback position be reason enough alone to play them?

Much as it may not appear given or focus thus far, there were other positions on the field Saturday besides quarterback.  Most notably being Oklahoma's trio of senior running backs who each had their respective moments during the final game they will play on Owen Field.

Roy Finch getting the start after weeks, if not years, of fans calling for exactly that.  While he did not break off any long runs like his counterparts, he did run the ball incredibly hard and put up a more than respectable 45 yards on 10 carries.  Meanwhile, both Clay and Williams ripped off long touchdown runs of 63 and 69-yards respectively. Williams would add a second touchdown run later in the game and finally looked like the running back we saw last year and expected to see coming into this season.  He excels when he makes that one cut and gets north-south, instead of running sideways and trying to do too much as we've seen him do frequently this season.

With only 23 passing attempts and just twelve completions in the game, there weren't many opportunities for OU's wide receivers in this game.  The lone highlight being Thompson's 44-yard pass in the fourth quarter to Lacoltan Bester.

A number of vitally important questions to be answered going forward, but if Saturday was any indication there are signs with which to be encouraged by.  However, will those in charge be able to read said signs or will they go back to what they clearly feel more comfortable with despite the struggles while doing so?


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