Remember the 2013-14 college football season? When Trevor Knight was supposed to be the next big thing and just a couple months before that, walk-on Baker Mayfield was supposed to be the next great Texas Tech quarterback? Well here we are nearly halfway through with 2015, and neither of those have happened. Knight struggled all of last season while Mayfield hasn’t started a game since 2013. But both players have the talent and excel in different areas of the game. One of the two will be Oklahoma's starting quarterback in September but right now, it's pretty hard to tell who that will be.
Knight has been known to be a great read option quarterback with some impressive arm strength. Mayfield can launch the ball anywhere on the field with ease. Neither of them are excellent decision makers as we saw in the spring game.
While on paper they can appear like they are a lot alike, they’re actually quite different players with different personalities.
Trevor Knight : The junior from San Antonio seems like the prototype for a spread quarterback in this era. He’s 6"1/200, pretty fast and mobile, and has a quick release. He’s never played a full season healthy, starting just 15 games in two seasons. From the 2014 Sugar Bowl to the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl, it’s hard to say just how good Knight is. If he is the starter, then expect improvement in decision making from the junior, as he already has the play-making ability. In the Sugar Bowl, he showed how he can be used efficiently by being placed in shotgun and given time to make good decisions. In his next bowl appearance against Clemson, he was being pressured and forced into third down situations all night which lead to three costly interceptions and a huge loss to end the year. Put him in shotgun and give him time, and he can be a very good player. Get him out of his comfort zone and he'll try too hard to make something out of nothing.
|Bowl Game (Opponent)||Score||Statistics|
|Sugar Bowl (#3 Alabama)||W 45-31||32/44 passing, 349 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT|
|Russell Athletic (#17 Clemson)||L 40-6||17/37 passing, 103 yards, 3 INT|
His personality reminds you of a typical Oklahoma quarterback. He's a silent leader, good kid, and there's really nothing to dislike about him. You can also tell when he is having fun out there, jumping up and down with his teammates. As a coach, Knight is a guy you would want on your team.
Baker Mayfield : On the other side of the quarterback battle, former walk-on Mayfield is hungry to get back on the field after missing out all of last season because of transfer rules. The last time we saw Mayfield before the spring game, was actually last year's spring game where he played phenomenal despite only being there a couple of weeks prior to the game. In Mayfield's last action during the regular season, we saw him lose the starting position to Davis Webb at Texas Tech late in the year. Mayfield threw 12 touchdowns to nine interceptions that year along with three rushing scores.
While his touchdown to interception ratio isn't better than Knight's (Knight's TD-INT ratio is 1.35 while Mayfield's is 1.33), many would say Mayfield is the better thrower of the two. In the last two spring games, he has outperformed Knight and can make big plays with his arm and legs. He's not as fast as Knight, but he is a smart runner. The downfall is his tendency to be turnover prone. He had nine interceptions and two fumbles lost in eight games at Texas Tech during the 2013 season. He was also a very streaky player in his lone season as you can see below.
|@ SMU||W 41-23||4||0|
|Texas St.||W 33-7||0||1|
So seven touchdowns to zero interceptions his first two games, one touchdown and six interceptions his next four, then ended the season with a dud versus Texas after a strong performance against Baylor. Talk about streaky.
Then again, this was two years ago when Knight was running around throwing touchdowns against Alabama, so a lot can happen in two years. But even in the spring game, Mayfield appeared to go on hot streaks and cold streaks. He's an aggressive player you could say, which leads to big plays and turnovers. A lot of Knight's mistakes are just mental errors, Mayfield's errors are more because of his style of play, something that is easier to coach.
Something you can't really coach or enforce on a player is leadership qualities and Mayfield excels in that department. It's reported that you can always catch him dancing in the locker room and being fired up on the field. It's not really a common OU quarterback trait under Stoops to have that kind of attitude, but it's not a bad thing by any means. Maybe it could be what Sooner fans and players need from their starting quarterback? Some new energy and fire to bring to the program is always a good thing.
Whoever wins the starting spot should stand out in Riley's air-raid system as the best man for the job. Riley's offense should bring out the best in each individual player, giving the quarterback a lot of options and room to showcase their strengths. Each one is talented in their own way, but finding out who's talent will work out best in Riley's air raid system will be the deciding factor as to who gets named the starter in August.