NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has no interest in letting everyone know who will be the Sooners’ starting quarterback when they visit Kansas State on Saturday.
“No need in presenting that,” Stoops said Monday. “That’s something I’m not going to [do]. Why would I?”
Can you blame him? There’s really no reason to let the Wildcats know who to prepare and game plan against.
Yet, we could already know.
The Sooners played Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson in their 48-10 win over Iowa State last weekend. A closer look, via film study, at the quarterbacks' performance reveals who could be the guy when the first-team offense takes the field in Manhattan, Kan. Here’s a breakdown of the good, bad and ugly from all three signal-callers against the Cyclones.
The good: Bell opened the game with easy and accurate completions to Roy Finch and Jaz Reynolds and his third throw was an accurate one dropped by Jalen Saunders. LaColton Bester and Jalen Saunders were open on the play when he found Finch but he made a quick decision and delivered the ball accurately to one of the Sooners’ best open-field playmakers. It’s hard to have a problem with that decision.
The bad: After his good start he was hesitant to pull the trigger and attack Iowa State’s zone approach, which resulted in incompletions and negative plays. His last three throws were incompletions where he decided to hold onto the ball instead of make a mistake.
The ugly: The hit Bell took that eventually knocked him out of the game. The junior didn’t see it coming and paid for it.
Overall: Bell finished with a 21 adjusted QBR and never looked decisive in the pocket after a solid first few plays. The worst performance of the three.
The good: In his first drive after replacing Bell early in the second quarter, Knight was more decisive and showed better anticipation than Bell had in the first quarter. He played with confidence and the Sooners offensive rhythm changed for the better when he entered. He rarely settled for no gain plays on early downs, allowing the Sooners more play calling options on second and third down. OU scored on six of seven possessions (four touchdowns) with Knight under center. Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?
The bad: He could have had an easy touchdown to Bester late in the second quarter if he didn’t make a pre-snap decision where he wanted to throw. Bester had a linebacker on him in OU’s trips formation and was wide open down the middle of the field after a play-action fake to Damien Williams. Knight could have recognized the mismatch before the snap, but chose to throw to Saunders on the opposite side of the field instead. Pre-snap decisions about where to throw the ball can handicap an offense.
The ugly: The word ugly is a bit strong but Knight missed multiple touchdown opportunities. Ideally he would hit at least one of them.
Overall: Knight finished with a very solid 75 adjusted QBR. His passing numbers were subpar but he consistently led OU to points when he was on the field, which is all that really matters.
The good: The sophomore led OU to a touchdown on his first drive of his career late in the fourth quarter of the blowout victory. He made good decisions with the ball including recognizing a busted coverage by the Cyclones’ defense to find Bester on a 44-yard throw and showed good running skills as well. His field awareness and recognition was probably the best of the three.
The bad: Thompson probably could have been more accurate on his incompletions, one to Durron Neal and one to Bester.
The ugly: Not much to say here, Thompson performed about as well as could be expected in his first-ever game action.
Overall: Thompson led the Sooners with a 94 adjusted QBR in his lone drive. Simply put, he was outstanding.
While Stoops has no interest in revealing who will start against Kansas State on Saturday, it should raise eyebrows if it is anyone except Knight. He stepped in and performed extremely well against the Cyclones. Thompson could be the wildcard, and earn a few snaps this weekend, if his late game performance was impressive enough for OU decide to give him more opportunities.