Bob Stoops naming Trevor Knight as Oklahoma's starting quarterback on Thursday night did nothing to end the conversations regarding Sooner signal callers. It was like adding fuel to the flames as OU fans went to social media, local radio stations, and all over the web to express their excitement, frustration and apprehensions about the decision.
There are so many talking points being brought up right now that this conversation will easily continue until next Saturday's kickoff...and then well beyond.
Here's our take, feel free to chime in with your thoughts as well.
This is more about Knight than it is about Bell...or is it?
Matt: I think that we have to start by saying that this is more about Trevor Knight being uber impressive than it is about Blake Bell not being able to handle the job. Coaches and players both piled on the praise for Knight during his redshirt season last fall and then into the spring. Apparently the kid has the ability to make to make those jaw dropping plays that leave you thinking, "Did I just see that?"
At the end of the day, Bell was completely capable of directing the Sooner offense this fall but Knight just has that "it" factor. This is no doubt more about Knight being that good, rather than Bell not being able.
Jordan: No question it's about Knight winning the job more so than Bell losing it. Which is obviously a cliche, but by every account from those "in the know" this was simply a case of Knight making more plays in the practices and scrimmages.
Does Bell ride it out on the bench and leave his legacy at Oklahoma as being the "Belldozer"?
Matt: Yes! It just isn't feasible for Bell to transfer at this point. The semester has already started and unless he's graduating this spring, he's not going anywhere other than a lower division to play. Sooner legends come in all shapes and sizes and Bell has a good thing going with the Belldozer, and I would expect there to be multiple additions to it over the next two seasons. Besides that, the backup quarterback is usually the most popular guy on the offense.
Jordan: This is always the immediate question following these type of decisions, but I've always hated speculating as to the decision these kids may or may not make with regards to a potential transfer. So I won't do that, but I think it's premature to assume anything with regards to Bell's career at OU. Mobile quarterbacks, which Knight is, get injured all the time so while certainly no one would be wishing for that to happen, but the odds are it could happen at which point Bell would obviously be needed. Or Knight could struggle, much like Paul Thompson did when he won the job over Rhett Bomar, and get pulled in the opener.
My point obviously being the decision to name Knight the starter does not seal Bell's fate as an OU quarterback.
Matt: You're right, Bell is just a snap away from being the starting quarterback. That's how the Landry Jones era began, right? The point is that Bell is still the backup, after all the speculation that it was his job to lose, and barring an injury or Knight falling on his face, he'll pretty much end his career as the being the "Belldozer" and that's really not all that bad.
Jordan: Well, I'd argue that if he has aspirations of playing quarterback in the NFL then simply being the "Belldozer" would be pretty bad. He's not going to develop into an NFL quarterback playing behind someone else and getting primarily practice reps.
It's not an identical situation to be sure, but this is obviously why Drew Allen transferred to Syracuse.
It'll be up to Bell and (1) how he chooses to respond to this decision and (2) what he wants to do if it becomes clear Knight won't be relinquishing the starting gig.
Did the competition set these guys up to fail with unrealistic expectations from the fanbase?
Matt: Well of course it did! For Knight to beat out Blake Bell he has to be the best quarterback in the nation. There's no other way to explain it...right?
Come on, we're OU fans and unrealistic expectations are pretty much our thing. If Oklahoma fans were screaming for Bell to take the field every time Landry Jones messed up, don't think for a second that they won't be thinking about the same time when Knight messes up. He's a youngster and he's gonna make some mistakes. Just keep in mind that in 2007 redshirt freshman Sam Bradford was average at best on the road and then a year later he had matured into the best quarterback in the country.
Stoops and the staff have made their decision and they have to stick with it. There's nothing worse than a quarterback who has to look over his shoulder. Oklahoma can't afford to be in that position, because there's too much at stake, so they'll have to be firm in reinforcing their choice.
Jordan: To be honest, I'm not entirely sure I follow the question. As you've alluded to, with just about any fan base there are going to be unrealistic expectations. I think that comes more into play once the season starts and expecting a redshirt freshman not to throw the occasional bad interception (or two), but in terms of batting it out for the starting job I'm not sure where the unrealistic expectations would have come into play.
Matt: Just about everyone pegged Bell as the starter, and many had him as the guy who could do what Landry Jones couldn't, and now he's back to being the backup again. Like we've said, it really shows the potential and upside of Knight but it also shows that sometimes we're a little too anxious to name the next Sooner great.
Jordan: Well, sure. Welcome to big time college football. Every next recruit is the greatest thing since sliced bread. That just comes with the territory. I think most had their concerns with Bell coming into this offseason. Not from a talent perspective mind you, clearly he has that, but we'd seen so little from him it was only natural to be somewhat skeptical of his ability to lead this offense. Now he may still get his chance and could do incredibly well with it if that time does come, but the danger in assuming anything is when something like this happens. OU obviously recruited Knight for a reason and they're (OU) not generally of signing quarterbacks they don't believe can eventually play and/or start for them.
Speaking of expectations, I guess we expected too much from Bell?
Matt: False! Unless you expected a guy that you've never seen pass the football become an All American this year. Bell is a good quarterback and that needs to be emphasized over and again. This goes all the way back to our first point in that Knight was just better.
Jordan: I'd agree with you in theory. The logical assumption at the end of last year was that this was Bell's job to lose. It made sense at the time even if it was simply an assumption. Stoops has trended towards going with the experienced guy in position battles, but clearly Knight outperformed Bell when it mattered most. And quarterback is such an important position, I think Stoops (or any coach for that matter) risks losing the respect of this team if one guy outplays the other (as Knight apparently did) and he's not chosen as the starter.
This has to be a sure indication that the offense is changing at Oklahoma.
Matt: I don't see how you can look at it anyother way. Knight is a true dual-threat quarterback. He rushed for over a thousand yards as a junior in high school and then nine hundred plus his senior year. He's not going to be a pocket passer at Oklahoma. This will have an effect on every aspect of the offense as well. The line will block differently and the running backs will have new assignments as well as the potential for more success because the quarterback has to be respected for what he can do on the ground, as well as through the air.
Jordan: Look, you want to believe that. I want to believe that. But until I actually see it I can't help but be skeptical. It's not as if I think they are going to run the same offense they ran last year, there will obviously have to be some changes with ‘some' being the operative word there.
I think they'll use the quarterback some in the run game, but Stoops has always been afraid of losing his QB to an injury and having him running around outside the pocket isn't exactly the best way to keep him healthy. Add to the fact Stoops has rarely played and/or had his backup quarterback ready to go in the event of an injury to the starter and you're asking for some pretty significant philosophical changes from the OU head ball coach.
It could happen, but again much like with Heupel I'm skeptical until we see otherwise.
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