When Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight earned the starting job at the outset of the season, the announcement came as a surprise to many who assumed Blake Bell would inherit the keys to the offense after two seasons playing behind Landry Jones.
In Saturday’s 41-31 Sooners win, Kansas State fans and coaches got an up-close look at just exactly how Knight stole the job away.
Making just his third-career start after Bell took over three games into the season, Knight was impressive, finishing 14 of 20 through the air for 171 yards and a score, while rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown. Paired with Brennan Clay’s 200-yard, two touchdown performance on the ground, the Sooners’ showed how potent their offense can be on the ground behind a veteran offensive line.
For Knight, the day’s biggest mistake came early on an interception in the red zone. Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said the turnover wasn’t Knight’s fault.
“Trevor came in and was great throwing and running,” Stoops said. “The interception — it was a miscommunication, but it was really the receiver’s fault, not Trevor’s. The receiver is supposed to break his route off in front of that defensive back, and that’s what Trevor was counting on, and it didn’t happen, so Trevor threw the interception. But the rest of the day, I thought he was great.”
In earning his Oklahoma-record 158th win, Stoops can thank his team’s dynamic rushing game. Between Clay’s big day and Knight keeping drives alive with several third-down scrambles, the Sooners didn’t need to go to the air much on a cold and blustery day at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Stoops was quick to praise Clay and his offensive line for dominating the line of scrimmage.
“Brennan Clay was sensational, again,” Stoops said. “I think he came into the game in the top two or three in our league in yards per carry, and he showed it again today. He just had a great day running the football, and let’s give the line credit, too.”
K-State, meanwhile, took to the air almost exclusively in response to OU’s defensive look. Oklahoma ended the day with a 301-24 advantage on the ground, moving the Sooners to 62-1 all time under Stoops when rushing for more than 200 yards.
“It’s got to boost your confidence coming in here and playing like we did,” Knight said. “In the last two weeks, the amount of yards we’ve put up in the run game, it has to give confidence to those guys up front.”
Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight carries the ball against Kansas State on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium).
For the K-State defense, trying to keep Knight from scrambling for big gains proved difficult all afternoon. Knight and Clay worked well together in the zone read, combining to average more than 6 yards per carry.
“I thought their quarterback played well,” K-State head coach Bill Snyder said. “They felt comfortable with him being back there and I thought he threw the ball well today. But it was the zone-read play that did the most damage to us today. It’s something he’s been very good at and we’ve seen a lot on tape. We knew he was going to run it, but we didn’t defend it very well.”
Linebacker Jonathan Truman was quick to praise Knight on his solid day.
“He’s a talented guy,” Truman said. “We respect him a lot. The things that he can do, throwing the ball and also with his legs, are good for their football team.”
Blake Slaughter said the Oklahoma redshirt-freshman, who was named Saturday’s starter midway through the week, was ready to take the top spot on the depth chart.
“I feel like Trevor was prepared,” Slaughter said. “You saw him at the beginning of the season when he was competing really hard in practice, so I knew that was going to happen.”
While Knight’s abilities as a runner were on full display Saturday, Stoops said he has only scratched the surface of his potential as a thrower.
“I think you’re seeing more and more how well he throws the football,” Stoops said. “The more we go, I still believe there’s so much there, because he throws a great ball. We just have to keep getting him comfortable in the moment and the guys around him playing.”