Spring football is just over the horizon.
Oklahoma is coming off a banner 2013 campaign featuring an 11-win season and an Allstate Sugar Bowl win over SEC power Alabama, yet the Sooners have several position groups they need to address if they hope to make a national title run in 2014. This week, we’ll take a closer look at the top five position groups that need to improve during spring practices. We finish the series with the Sooners' quarterbacks at No. 1.
Summary: It would be easy to ignore the 12 regular season games that led up to the Sugar Bowl. Sorry, this isn’t that kind of party, thus the Sooners quarterback position needs the biggest improvement this spring. Blake Bell has moved to tight end, Kendal Thompson elected to transfer and Knight was knocked out of multiple games by injury last season.
This could be a position that provides the foundation of a championship run or become a position of peril in 2014.
Knight’s MVP performance in OU’s 45-31 win over Alabama was a glimpse of his potential. Yet he had struggles during eight games played in the regular season, finishing with 819 passing yards with nine touchdowns and five interceptions, which includes his 348-yard, four-touchdown performance in the Sugar Bowl. His improvement during the final stretch of the season, particularly against Iowa State, Kansas State and Alabama, should give fans confidence the Sugar Bowl was a sign of things to come, not an aberration. He can further that message with a strong spring.
Knight didn’t finish two of the five games he started as a redshirt freshman, so developing quality depth is the most important goal of the spring.
Mayfield, who walked on to the Sooners after leaving Texas Tech, is on campus but won’t be eligible to play in 2014. His presence will be valuable nonetheless since he’s had success in the Big 12 before his arrival in Norman, Okla.
Thomas is set to play baseball for the Sooners as well as take part in spring football. OU is confident he can handle both and continue to develop. As the lone quarterback other than Knight who was on campus last fall and still remains at the position, it is an important spring for Thomas to show he will be ready to play this fall. He’s an intriguing prospect with tremendous upside, so it wouldn’t a major surprise if he handled all his spring duties with ease and lessened the concern about the position as a whole.
Hansen’s decision to enroll early looks like a brilliant one after Bell’s move to tight end and Thompson’s transfer. He’ll get the opportunity to show the coaching staff he’s ready to play immediately and could win the backup job with a stellar spring. The Under Armour All-American is a good fit for OU’s system and has the tools to be a productive quarterback. It will be interesting to see how quickly he transitions into a collegiate quarterback.