The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


April 13, 2014

OU still building off Sugar Bowl

NORMAN, Okla. — A record crowd of 43,500 for Oklahoma’s spring football game is a sign of even higher expectations for the Sooners’ program.

The 45-31 shocker over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl has created momentum, which has carried over into both the winter and the spring.

That was seen in strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt’s demanding off-season program.

“I can say that through the winter, probably the positive energy that carried over according to coach Schmidt, we had our best winter that we can remember as far as fewest misses and the energy and the way the players pushed each other,’’ OU head coach Bob Stoops said after the spring game.

“Whether it’s because of that, or whether we have one of those teams that is really high character and likes to work. Then, you continue to build on that.’’

OU quarterback Trevor Knight, the star of the Sugar Bowl, is trying to build on that, even though he struggled Saturday (5 of 14 for 53 yards and one interception).

Knight has gone from being the youngest of three quarterback candidates last spring (with then fourth-year junior Blake Bell and third-year sophomore Kendal Thompson) to being the veteran.

“I expect to be more of a leader,’’ he said. “I have to step into that leadership role, not just in our meeting room, but as a whole team ... just getting the guys rallied around me and carrying that momentum from last season and working it into this season.’’

As the established starter, Knight said he expects to be more vocal and more of a take-charge guy.

“I’m not looking over my shoulder as much,’’ he said. “I’m stepping into that role and getting reps with the A-team guys, and we’re building chemistry.

“It’s going to be a lot easier vocally, just knowing that I’m the vocal leader now, and I need to step into that role a little more. I just want to be the same guy every day, just working as hard as I can and being that guy that’s not messing up in the weight room, and then going into practice working hard.’’

Knight is excited for the future of the program as the team builds what he called “positive energy.’’

The Sooners built that momentum as the underdog with upset wins over Oklahoma State and Alabama when few gave them a chance to win. They played with a chip on their shoulder.

Now, they are projected as a top five team. Knight said the Sooners must work now to avoid complacency and work hard to improve every day.

“We still have a long way to go,’’ he said.

He credited “confidence’’ as the key in his breakout game against Alabama (32 of 44 passing for 348 yards and four touchdowns).

“I was ready,’’ he said.

A spring game is not always the best measuring stick for future success. Several key players, including three projected starting offensive lineman, sat out.

The offense knows the defense and vice versa.

“I don’t know that you ever get anything answered in 15 practices,’’ Stoops said. “What I feel like is there has been improvement. Players that haven’t had a ton of experience have more now. We’ll build on it. There’s such a long time from now to September that they still have a lot of opportunity to improve and for growth here in the summer and two-a-days.’’

And don’t forget incoming freshman such as Joe Mixon of Oakley, Calif., who was rated as the nation’s top running back in some circles.

But Saturday was a chance to rejoice. Put the crowd number in perspective — it was larger than the crowd that saw the Sooners beat Kansas (41,113) on the road last season.

“Hopefully, everybody had fun,’’ Stoops said.

The secret will be having the same kind of fun in the fall when OU starts the season Aug. 30 at home against Louisiana Tech.

Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.

Text Only
  • Moving In? Indoor football coming back to Enid?

    Oklahoma City businessman Antwone Taulton and Enid Enforcers manager Mark Timberlake are in the early stages of a plan they hope will see the return of arena football in 2015 to Enid after an absence of more than 10 years. And if things progress as one league executive expects, an official announcement could be forthcoming in the near future.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Morris Claiborne Claiborne wants to prove worth to Dallas

    Morris Claiborne had already told reporters he was ready to prove he was worthy of Dallas’ dramatic move up the draft board to get him with the sixth overall pick in 2012. He didn’t waste any time showing some urgency.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tim Tebow NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules

    The NCAA agreed on Tuesday to help athletes with head injuries in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit that college sports’ governing body touted as a major step forward but that critics say doesn’t go nearly far enough.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Attorney: OU's Mixon acted in self defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon said the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 29, 2014

  • OSU no longer faces APR restrictions

    NCAA officials say Oklahoma State’s football program no longer faces restrictions for the upcoming school year because its Academic Progress Rate has been amended.

    July 29, 2014

  • Radio-TV for 7-30-14

    July 29, 2014

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Rice's punishment hardly fit the crime

    Two games, just over 12 percent of the 16-game regular season. Two games for hitting a woman hard enough to knock her out cold.
    Rice said Monday he will not appeal his suspension, which could wind up costing him $529,411 in fines and salary. And why wouldn’t he? He must feel like he got off scot-free.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SamBradfordpicturejpeg Bradford used to being at 'career crossroads'

    It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.
    Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s supposedly at a career crossroads.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • TU wins C-USA academic honor

    The University of Tulsa earned the 2013-14 Conference USA Institutional Excellence award by posting the highest grade point average during the 2013-14 academic year for all student athletes in conference-sponsored athletes, the school announced on Monday.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hixon added to West All-State football team

    July 28, 2014

Click here for NASCAR headlines
Sports Photos

Enid News & Eagle sports photos from the month of February 2014. Enjoy all the ENE photos with full access at