Some Sooners will have more of an impact than others and will be counted on to be the foundation of the squad in 2014. This week we’ll count down the five most important players on offense, taking into account their expected contribution, the quality of their backups and their previous production. On Friday we finish the countdown with No. 1.
OU QB Trevor Knight, who was the MVP in the Sugar Bowl, is arguably the biggest key to the Sooners' national title run.
2013 role: Knight was named OU’s opening day starter as a redshirt freshman but didn’t light the world on fire early. He passed for 211 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions during his first four games (two starts). In the final four games of his debut season, Knight stepped his game up. He passed for 608 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions while leading the Sooners to wins over Iowa State, Kansas State and Alabama. His 85.2 adjusted Total QBR was second in the Big 12 during that stretch, only trailing Oklahoma State's Clint Chelf (89.3).
Expected 2014 role: Knight is OU’s unquestioned starter after his MVP performance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. He will be counted on to lead the offense and perform consistently behind center.
Why he’s important: First off, he’s the quarterback. Knight will be counted on to lead the offense and make game-changing plays with his arm and feet. Secondly, Cody Thomas and Justice Hansen are a pair of inexperienced freshmen who are battling to back him up. If OU has any hope of battling for a College Football Playoff berth, Knight will have to stay healthy and consistently play at a high level. If not, the Sooners title hopes plummet.
If he was missing: Thomas or Hansen will likely take the helm. Blake Bell’s move to tight end and desire to remain there would make asking him to return to the quarterback position unfair to the senior, particularly considering his loyalty to the program. Thus, OU would be looking at placing their destiny in the hands of an inexperienced signal-caller. Remember, that’s exactly what Bob Stoops’ team did with Knight a season ago, but Knight’s early season performance is proof it is tough to ask any freshman to be the man under center and expect a smooth ride.