So are you excited for a quarterback controversy, y'all?
Yeah, me neither. But after Saturday night it certainly appears that's what we're in for with this struggling OU offense. You knew it would be one of the first questions asked in Bob Stoops' postgame meeting with the media and he seemed ready for it.
However, Stoops being who he is there was very little insight provided both to why a switch from Trevor Knight to Blake Bell was made (though they were pretty obvious) or what the plans are for the quarterback position going forward. Stoops did admit that how they finished the game against West Virginia would be a factor in any decision, so feel free to read into that as much or as little as you'd like.
As for the West Virginia game itself, why don't we address things individually from an offensive perspective.
Brennan Clay - Really the running backs in general, but given Clay's career best 170 yards rushing performance it feels like he warrants being singled out. And that number could have been even closer to 200 were it not for a penalty that negated a 23-yard run. Clay has clearly carried over this quality play from the latter half of last season into this one. He's running hard and picking up big chunks of yards finishing Saturday night with six runs of fourteen yards or more.
While he may not be the home run threat of a back like some others on the OU roster, he has obviously proved to be dependable and there is certainly value in that.
OU Running Game - While the passing game struggled mightily for a second consecutive game, the OU running game eclipsed the 300 yard mark once again. Which marks the first time since 1997 that the Oklahoma offense can claim such a statistic. And with Damien Williams' 95 rushing yards, the Sooners were just five yards away from having two 100-yard rushers in a game for the first time since 2008.
While Oklahoma's success on the ground has been somewhat of an unexpected and pleasant surprise, it's unlikely it alone can sustain the offense as a whole throughout the remainder of the season.
Offensive Line - It would foolish for a team to run for over 300 yards and not commend the offensive line for their part in that success.
Blake Bell - He wasn't asked to do much, but he did well with what the little he was asked to do. In a way it would be unfair to blame him for that, but as the same time something has to be said for why the coaches felt having him do so little was their best strategy to hold on for the win.
Wide Receivers - With a measly ten completions, it's not as though they had much to work with. According to Stoops, there were a number of breakdowns with the unit that led to some of Knight's struggles. There were some drop issues again as well as a costly fumble from Lacoltan Bester after what would have been a nice 32-yard gain.
Trevor Knight - There were a number of OU fans (myself included) defending Knight after his struggles in the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe. Unfortunately, a number of those same problems arose against West Virginia before Knight was eventually lifted in favor of Bell. His play Saturday night, especially the interceptions, were simply indefensible.
Knight was telegraphing his passes and the Mountaineer defenders clearly picked up on that. And while that is somewhat to be expected from a redshirt freshman quarterback making his second ever start, it also can't be to the point that it becomes that obvious and detrimental to the offense.
Following the game, it was reported that the coaches limited Knight from running the ball in the second half as a result of a hamstring injury. Which could be true, but Knight also took a shot to his quad in the first half that had him coming up slow and noticeably limping. Whatever the reasons, Knight was not passing the ball well enough to have those limitations imposed upon him and expect the offense to be successful.
The Play-Calling - Some will defend, others will fall on the other side of things. At some point in the second half, a decision was made to run an offense whose only goal was to get Oklahoma out of the game with a win. The goal wasn't to score any more points, rather to move the ball just enough to keep the clock moving. If points came as result, then so be it.
Yes, this is what the Oklahoma offense has come to. At least for Saturday night anyway. The primary goal became simply getting out alive (for lack of a better phrasing). Some might call that an intelligent coaching decision, while others might refer to it as cowardly and embarrassing. We'll leave it up to you to decide which camp you're in.
In addition to all that, the swing pass appeared to have been removed almost entirely from the offense. Yes, obviously Knight had some significant issues with those passes last week. But they have been a staple of the OU offense for a reason and to eliminate them from the game plan seems like an extreme overreaction on Josh Heupel's part.
One has to wonder why it would seem efforts are not being made to put Knight in the most successful positions possible. He's a guy who is better on the move, so why not have him rolling out and creating a mobile pocket? Oklahoma certainly has the offensive line to do so and yet the plan seems to be to keep Knight stationary in the pocket, which is not (at least for now) the strength of his game. Or seeming insistence of putting Knight behind the chains with incredibly predictable and unsuccessful first down play-calling?
To steal Stoops' trademarked catch phrase, 'in the end' it's up to the players on the field to make the plays. But it's also up to the coaches to put them in the best possible positions to be successful and if you're of the opinion that is currently happening then evidently we've watched different OU football games these last two weeks.
Roy Finch & Trey Millard - This is an offshoot of the play-calling and certainly not a reflection on the players themselves. Finch finished with three touches and Millard with just two, although one of those was OU's lone touchdown on the night.
There is an obvious argument to be made that by giving either more touches than they received means you're taking them away from those above we've already praised for their play. And it's a valid point.
There is also an argument to be made that if Millard is carrying the ball then he's not lead blocking for someone else since modern science prevent us from cloning him and thus creating not one, but two of the best fullbacks in the country. And that's a valid point as well.
That said, it's hard not to feel as though more of an effort needs to be made to get the ball in both of their hands.
Tight Ends - A position quickly going the way of OU's own version of the Bigfoot. Occasionally seen around campus, but rarely if ever seen on the actual football field.
In many instances, tight ends are used to help inexperienced quarterbacks providing an intermediate outlet for some, theoretically, "easy" completions. But not in this OU offense.