How much quarterback run game is too much?
It's an interesting question for several reasons as we head into Saturday's season opener. It's one I posed on Twitter a couple days ago and received a number of responses to, but we'll get to that a little later. One of primary reasons I've found it to be such an interesting question is because of, as we've discussed previously, how little we know about this Oklahoma football team and, more specifically, what we can expect from this offense against Louisiana-Monroe.
It's an interesting question if for no other reason than it's something OU coaches and fans alike have not had to consider over the better part of the last seven years.
There is expectation of the obvious on the part of fans that the quarterback has to become, at least to some degree, a factor in the run game. Otherwise why specifically target recruits with the particular skill set that Trevor Knight, Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson, Cody Thomas, and Justice Hansen possess? However, if you listen to the coaches they'd have you believe very little is going to change with respect to this OU offense.
Well, actually that's not entirely fair. It depends on the day and the coach that you're quoting when it comes to what may or may not happen with this offense. One day it's Bob Stoops saying how there probably won't be very many changes if any. The next it might be Cale Gundy cautiously admitting the quarterback might get a carry or two now and then. It's all just part of the cat-and-mouse game these OU coaches play with the local media and it's something we as fans have begrudgingly become accustomed to.
But back to our premise at hand. How much quarterback run game would be too much on Saturday night. We can project it going forward as well if you like, but for the purposes of right now let's simply focus on Saturday.
The risk in Knight leaving the presumed safety of the pocket is an obvious one, injury. He's an inexperienced redshirt freshman and he's probably not seasoned enough yet to know when to duck out of bounds or slide to avoid unnecessary contact. I suppose if you're defining risks, you have to include an assumed increase in likelihood that outside the pocket the chances could be greater Knight makes a poor decision and turns the ball over in some fashion, but of the two I'd have to believe potential injury is much more front of mind for OU fans.
Which leads me to the point in all of this being a question posed to you as a fan. What is your magic number Saturday night for the number of Trevor Knight rush attempts? As the clock rolls over to 0:00 at some point late(ish) Saturday, with OU hopefully having won their season opener, how many carries do you expect to be next to his name in the box score?
For really no particular reason, the number I've had in my head has been ten. Not necessarily because I want him to run the ball that many times, but more because I think at least two or three would be pass plays turn into runs. For instance, say Knight pulls the ball down before he goes through all of his reads. Or there is a bust along the offensive line and he turns what probably would have been a sack under Landry Jones or Sam Bradford into a positive play simply because of his athletic abilities.
Here are some of the responses I received on Twitter when I posed the question to the public.
@Jordan_Esco tough, I wanna go with the under. With our stable of RBs he shouldn't need to carry the ball more than 7-8 times.— Brenton Byrnes (@B_Byrnes04) August 27, 2013
@Jordan_Esco Under. Hate to have a QB take many hits.— Darby Place (@TheDarbyPlace) August 27, 2013
@Jordan_Esco I don't have a number, if it is working.. then do it till they stop it.. if that number is 5, 10, 20.. whatever works...— Jeremy Phillips (@dubyac30) August 27, 2013
@Jordan_Esco Hard to put a # on it. Contact per rush along with success might be a better way to judge it.— Joe Klobas (@JoeKlobas) August 27, 2013
@Jordan_Esco Against most opponents, under. Against TCU, Texas, OSU, over.— Nate Heupel (@NateHeupel) August 27, 2013
So now you know my number and the reasons behind it and some of those from the Twitter-verse, but we want to know where you think it will end up. Hit us up in the comments and let your voice be heard (or read as it were).