With Blake Bell sidelined by a concussion he suffered against Iowa State on Saturday, the Wildcats will be facing freshman quarterback Trevor Knight when the teams take the field this weekend. Knight, who was named the team’s preseason starter before being benched in favor of Blake Bell two games into the season, will attempt to retake the reins for the Sooners as Oklahoma and Kansas State for fourth place in the Big 12.
Despite Bell playing in goal-line sets in 2012, the OU coaching staff liked Knight’s arm during preseason workouts and decided the freshman was ready to carry the team. Granted, his receiving corps was very unimpressive entering the season, but he still had an extremely forgettable first game against Louisiana Monroe. Knight completed just 11 of 28 passes (39 percent) while throwing three touchdowns and an interceptions. However, he showed good running ability and turned in 103 yards rushing on 13 carries – good for an average of eight.
The following week against against West Virginia, Oklahoma eeked out a 16-7 victory that put the entire nation on notice that OU was as vulnerable as yours truly wrote they were back in August. Knight connected on 10 of his 20 passes against the Mountianeers for 119 yards, threw for just one touchdown to two interceptions. He was also less effective on his feet, running for just 42 yards on seven carries.
Bob Stoops went with Blake Bell as his starter the following week against Tulsa, and Bell never relinquished his grasp on the starting role until being knocked out last week. In relief, Knight was slightly more accurate, going 8-14 (57 percent) for just 61 yards, managing the game on mostly short and intermediate throws. He did most of his damage on the ground, rushing for 123 yards on ten attempts (an impressive 12.3 yard average) and one touchdown.
The impact on K-State’s preparation is obvious – Bell can make the secondary pay in a way Knight can’t. It is imperative the linebackers maintain their assignments. Ty Zimmerman appears to be gone for the game and possibly the season. Free Safety Dylan Schellenberg is his replacement, and must be ready to step up his game against what is suddenly a very potent Sooner rushing attack. Dante Barnett will need to have a big game, and could be the defensive player this contest pivots on.
Should Knight be injured or otherwise unable to perform, redshirt sophomore Kendal Thompson will step in. Thompson saw his first action this season late in the win over Iowa State. Oklahoma will also have freshman Cody Thomas. Although he is redshirting and Stoops would like to keep it that way, he travels with the team and would the third-team quarterback if Knight and Thompson had to exit the game.