Three hundred yard games aren't anything new to the Oklahoma Sooners. However, in the Bob Stoops era its been the quarterbacks who generally crack three hundred plus yards through the air. Going all the way back to Stoops first quarterback, Josh Heupel, its been a high flying offense in Norman that puts the ball in the air early and often. We may have witnessed the death of that era on Saturday night though as Trevor Knight passed for just 86 yards but ran for 103.
The end result was a three touchdown performance by Oklahoma's new signal caller, as he found Jalen Saunders in the end zone twice and Trey Metoyer once, but it was what Knight did with his legs that had people talking as they left the stadium. Averaging 7.9 yards per carry, Knight paved the way to one of the best team rushing performances in a few years. Everyone who ran the ball Saturday night was successful. As a team the Sooners averaged 6.1 yards per carry and every player who rushed the ball averaged four yards or better.
"I think Trevor did a great job. He has something we're not used to seeing, our quarterback take off and use his legs, but it's very exciting, and it moves the chains." - Jalen Saunders
Knight's 103 were a team high with Damien Williams coming in behind him at 66 yards on a team high 16 carries. In all, nine different Sooners carried the ball on Saturday night which is equal to the number of players who also caught a pass. The run game was working so well for Oklahoma that they ran the ball 50 times and passed it just 33. How far back in time do you have to go to find a starting quarterback at Oklahoma who rushed for more yards than he passed for?
The running backs proved to be a deep stable of talent. Seniors Brennan Clay and Damien Williams were the workhorses and Roy Finch was the shot of electricity that brings the crown to their feet every time he touches the ball. If the first game was an indicator, it appears that Williams will be the guy who gets the bulk of the carries but there's no shortage of talent behind him. All the way down to true freshman Keith Ford, every running back that played for the Sooners was impressive. The only complaint a person could lodge against this unit would be the incredibly bad lapse of judgement by Alex Ross who's night ended after just one carry following his punch to a defender's face mask.
Offensive Report Card
|Quarterback||C||Knight was fantastic with his legs but average at best with his arm.|
|Running Backs||A||A rushing average of 6.1 yards per carry says it all.|
|Receivers||B||Three touchdown receptions but also several drops.|
|Line||B||Slow start but very good overall production|
Credit the offensive line for making the change in schemes and philosophy as well. After a bit of a rough start the line was able to pave the way for Oklahoma's rushing attack and help keep Knight upright for the majority of the night. Knight was only sacked once in the game but he quickly made up for it with an 18-yard run on the next play.
Anytime there is change there's also going to be a sacrifice made. For at least the first game, that sacrifice seems to be Oklahoma's passing attack. The Sooners appear to be fully committed to a reboot of the offense which includes significantly less passing that possibly ever before during the Bob Stoops era. Oklahoma still has the receivers that can be game breakers but they've got to take advantage of every ball that come their way now because it seems there are going to be fewer of them. Jaz Reynolds, Trey Metoyer and Jalen Saunders were all guilty of dropping passes on Saturday night.
Knight also needs to take advantage of every pass as well because it only makes him all the more dangerous on the ground. Hopefully it was just jitters but there were far too many swing passes that went into the ground, balls batted down at the line of scrimmage and open receivers missed badly. Its okay to get excited about his mobility and play making ability but he has a long way to go in the area of improvement in the passing game. Granted in this new era of Sooner football the pass is just one aspect of the quarterback's game with running being the other. That said, its going to take a lot more than 86-passing yards to be in position to win a Big Twelve championship.