By Kurt Voigt, AP Sports Writer
NORMAN, Okla. —
Bob Stoops still isn’t quite ready to name a replacement for four-year starting quarterback Landry Jones.
However, the Oklahoma coach was more than prepared at Saturday’s media day to defend his delayed approach in naming either junior Blake Bell or redshirt freshman Trevor Knight at Jones’ successor.
The Sooners, after winning 10 games for the third straight season a year ago and sharing the Big 12 championship with Kansas State, opened fall practice Thursday.
They did so without the record-setting Jones under center for the first time since 2008. Bell and Knight are the top candidates to earn the starting job, especially after sophomore Kendal Thomp-son underwent surgery for a broken foot Thursday, but Stoops was in no hurry to commit to one player after three practices.
“This isn’t anything new to us,” Stoops said. “I know you don’t want to hear it, but we’ve won eight Big 12 championships with six different quarterbacks.
“Not one or two, six. So, our method of doing it has been fairly successful, and we feel good about what these guys are doing. We’ll keep bringing them along like we feel we need to.”
If Stoops sounded a bit defensive about his approach, well, it’s because he was. It’s a theme that’s carried over throughout the offseason for the veteran coach, who is about to begin his 15th season at Oklahoma.
Since the end of last season, Stoops has lamented about the national-championship-or-bust culture at Oklahoma.
Stoops enters this season nine wins away from surpassing former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer for the most wins in school history, a mark he’s paid little — if any — attention to.
More pressing than any of Stoops’ offseason chatter, or pending records, has been the Sooners search for a starting quarterback. It’s a competition many expect to be won by Bell, a former top recruit who saw action in all 13 games last season and has done his best to carry himself as the starter and a leader in Jones’ absence.
“I feel like it’s a job I’ve got to go win,” Bell said. “After Landry leaving, it’s opened up for anybody. The only thing I can do is go out there each and every day and show them what I can do on the field, and I feel like I’ve done that.”
The 6-foot-6, 263-pound right-hander primarily saw action as a short-yardage running option last season. He finished with 11 rushing touchdowns, including four in a win over Texas, but he also showed at times the arm strength that made him a top recruit — finishing 9-of-16 passing for 107 yards.
Regardless of how many expect the quarterback competition to play out, Stoops left his timeframe for naming a starter open to interpretation.
“When we feel it’s the right time,” he said.
Knight redshirted last season, and the 6-foot-1, 202-pound Texas native is expected to receive more repetitions in camp.
with Thompson out, as will true freshman Cody Thomas.
Stoops said he would prefer to play one quarterback primarily rather than sharing time. Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said whoever wins the starting job won’t have time to ease their way into the job when Oklahoma opens on Aug. 31 with Louisiana-Monroe, following that up a week later by opening Big 12 play against West Virginia.
“Expectations here are really simple,” Heupel said. “As a football team, we’re about competing for championships, conference championships, national championships.
“Whoever the quarterback is, we expect him to play at a championship level. We don’t want him to do that in Week 10; we want him to do that in Week 1.”