Oklahoma Sooners: Matt Scott

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops was talking about Johnny Manziel as his team prepared to face Texas A&M’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in the Cotton Bowl. Yet his words revealed the driving force behind the Sooners’ change in recruiting strategy at the quarterback position.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
Michael C. Johnson/US PresswireIf Blake Bell wins OU's quarterback job, expect more designed runs for the signal-caller.
“Sometimes the worst thing you can do is cover everybody,” Stoops said in December.

It’s every defensive coordinator’s nightmare to play great defense, have all receiving options covered, then watch helplessly as the quarterback scrambles for a big gain. It happened time and time again during the Cotton Bowl as Manziel set a Cotton Bowl record with 516 total yards against OU.

The Sooners are hoping they’re on the positive side of that equation this fall and beyond. With Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson, the Sooners have quarterbacks who can make defenses pay with their feet if they’ve run out of options through the air.

A glimpse at the skill set of OU’s quarterbacks has led to speculation that the Sooners offense would undergo drastic changes with a shift towards an offense that features the quarterback run game.

There are several signs that will not be the case, however. The Sooners signed four receivers on Wednesday, a sign that receiver-heavy formations are here to stay.

Most importantly, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Josh Heupel is very diligent on the recruiting trail in his search for athletic quarterbacks who are passers first. Mental makeup, intangibles, accuracy and arm strength sit alongside mobility on the Sooners list of priorities when recruiting quarterbacks.

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Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops wasn’t shy about praising his former school, which knocked off Oklahoma State late Saturday night. Stoops was fired from Arizona midway through last season after eight years there.

“I was certainly happy for Arizona, happy for Coach (Rich) Rodriguez and all the players at Arizona there,” Stoops said. “They must have played an awfully great game. That’s a tough place to play there at night.”

Stoops singled out quarterback Matt Scott, whom Stoops signed out of high school. Scott finally won a starting job this fall after backing up Nick Foles for four years.

“We all knew Matt Scott was a great player,” Stoops said. “It’s not a shock. I saw what Matt Scott did for four years there. He got beat out by an NFL quarterback in Nick Foles and Matt is a tremendous talent.

“So I’m really happy and proud of what those guys did against a really good Oklahoma State team. It’s more personal for me because I coached at Arizona. I’m really proud of those guys. I had a feeling that game would be tougher than people thought.”

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