The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 17, 2013

Knight ready when opportunity knocked

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

NORMAN, Okla. — What a difference two months and nine days made for Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight.

Knight, in his last home action Sept. 7 against West Virginia, left the game technically because of an injury. However, the two pass interceptions he threw that night in OU’s 16-7 win over the Mountaineers led to him losing his starting job to Blake Bell.

The roles were reserved Saturday when Bell left the Iowa State game after being injured himself on the Sooners’ third offensive series.

Knight responded well, rushing for 123 yards on 10 carries, including a 56-yard touchdown run. He completed eight of 14 passes for 61 yards as the Sooners came away with a 48-10 victory.

“I kept being the same guy,’’ Knight said. “I’ve been the same guy every day. That’s how I approach it from the beginning. I was the same guy them that I am now. You’ve got to be ready when your time is called.’’

Knight had limited reps in practice, but spent time in the film room and with Bell in game plan preparations.

“A lot of it is just confidence and going in there knowing what to expect and being prepared,’’ Knight said. “I’ve been working hard in the film room. You don’t get nervous when you’re ready to play. You don’t get nervous when you’re prepared. Preparation is everything.

“You never want that to happen (Bell being injured), but you have to be ready. You have to run the complete offense. You have to go in there and make the most of the opportunities.’’

OU head coach Bob Stoops said the game plan was for Knight to play some, although “there wasn’t an exact timetable. It was when coach (offensive coordinator Josh) Heupel wanted to get some of those plays.’’

Knight saw some action in a 41-12 loss to Baylor on Nov. 7 in a designed package for him. He was able to get some continuity being the full-time quarterback.

“I was able to get a rhythm going,’’ he said. “When you go in there for a few plays, you don’t get that rhythm going. Once you get several plays in, you start getting the rhythm and play.’’

He did admit he has matured over the season, learning in practice and watching Bell. He did see some action in crucial situations Sept. 28 against Notre Dame.

“I was definitely more in control,’’ he said. “That’s why veterans play so well, because they have been through it so many times. They have seen every look. Every time you play, you get more comfortable. I was a lot more comfortable out there today. I pressed a bit, but overall I was more comfortable and a lot more confident than the first two games.’’

Stoops said Knight played within himself.

“Early in the season, everything was happening real fast for him,’’ Stoops said. “He was rushing through things in the run game and in the pass game. Anybody who can do it over and over in practice against good people is bound to do it in games, too.’’

Stoops said Knight “did an excellent job of being ready for the moment and executed the zone-read option well.

Stoops responded “yes and no’’ when asked if Knight’s speed opened up the rest of the running game.

OU, for the first time since the 2008 Big 12 Championship game, had two runners with more than 100 yards (Damien Williams 128 and Knight 123). Williams and Brennan Clay had long touchdown runs of 69 and 63 yards, respectively, as well in the second half.

“His (Knight’s) ability to get to the perimeter is a factor,’’ Stoops said. “Some of it, what it continues to do, is press the defense to be absolutely correct. If they’re not, something pops in there and that’s what happened on some of those runs. Somebody is not where they’re supposed to be and some of those runs don’t look so good, they get two, they get one, they get zero, and all of a sudden it goes for 50. That’s why sometimes you have to keep running.’’

Knight felt he did a good job with his reads.

“Quite a few were reads and some were designed plays,’’ he said. “We tried to mix it up and make it all look the same.’’

While Knight did not throw the ball much, he did have some big pass plays, especially on his first series.

He hit Jalen Saunders for 11 yards on a third-and-nine from the Iowa State 40. A play later, he connected with LaColton Bester for a 19-yard pass to the ISU 8.

He missed on a third down pass to Bester and the Sooners had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Michael Hunnicutt.

“When I hit LaColton on the first series, I knew things were going to go our way,’’ Knight said. “We didn’t punch it in, but we got points out of that. I have to get better throughout the week and go forward and hit my shots. You have to make plays.’’

The game was tied 10-10 at halftime. The Sooners only had 110 yards of offense at intermission, including 66 yards rushing. OU rushed for 339 yards in the second half.

“At halftime, we talked about going out there and having fun and going out there and playing like we have since we were little kids,’’ Knight said. “Everyone responded to that. When you’re making big plays, you’re having fun, but you’re making those big plays because you are having fun. It was good stuff.’’

Both Stoops and Heupel did not commit to naming a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game at Kansas State.

“We’ll look at what we feel is the best way moving forward,’’ Stoops said.

“I really can’t say right now what we’ll do,’’ Heupel said.

“It was a great feeling to play,’’ Knight said. “I came out, had fun, and enjoyed the moment.”