Monday, February 11, 2013
Position breakdown: Quarterback
By Jake Trotter
NORMAN, Okla. -- We know there will be a different starting quarterback at Oklahoma next season.
What we don’t know is who that quarterback will be.
Whatever happens, this figures to be perhaps the most intriguing quarterback derby of the Bob Stoops era.
Josh Heupel was the obvious answer in 1999. It became clear during the Texas game in 2001 that Jason White was OU’s next future quarterback. In 2005, Rhett Bomar was the clear heir-apparent to White, and when Bomar was booted off the team, Paul Thompson was the only other option.
The only true quarterback contest occurred in 2007, and even then, insiders knew Sam Bradford would eventually be named the starter.
With his experience and running prowess, Blake Bell should get first crack at the OU quarterback job. But he'll have to show he can produce in the passing game if he wants to hold onto the job.
This quarterback competition to succeed Landry Jones figures to feature more drama than the one of 2007. That said, the job is Blake Bell’s to lose. Bell has gained valuable on-field experience, operating the “Belldozer” package that has already netted him 24 career rushing touchdowns. But Bell’s power wheels alone won’t win him the job. He will have to prove that he can operate Josh’s Heupel’s pass-first, spread scheme with throwing accuracy and precision. He is more than capable. After all, the Sooners recruited Bell for his arm first, and he showed flashes of passing brilliance during the 2012 spring game.
But, if Bell struggles at all, it could open the door for Trevor Knight to make a run. Even though he redshirted, Knight is coming off an impressive freshman year. Running the scout-team offense, Knight embarrassed OU’s first-team defense several times during closed practices. Knight is a true dual-threat quarterback. His arm is strong enough to beat defenses from the pocket. But he’s also athletic and savvy enough to make plays outside the pocket, either through the air or on the ground. The Sooners saw firsthand in the AT&T Cotton Bowl how difficult it is to stop a quarterback who can do both.
Sophomore Kendal Thompson is the dark horse in the race. With Bell getting the second-string snaps and Knight running the scout-team offense, Thompson spent most of his 2012 practices watching from the sideline. But Thompson has as good a work ethic as anyone on the roster, and often times he was the last to leave the practice field, getting his work in then. Thompson also has tremendous foot speed, which he displayed during last year’s spring game.
Thompson, however, is also a long shot to win the job, and would have to be close to flawless to unseat Bell while staving off Knight’s momentum. Several insiders close to the program truly believe that Knight could beat out Bell and be OU’s starting QB in 2013. Bell’s talents and experience shouldn’t be minimized either, though.
It should be an intriguing race to follow over the next few months. Likely the most intriguing of the Stoops era.