In preparing to face the Oklahoma Sooners this week, uncertainty has been the name of the game for the Kansas State football team.
(Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight carries the ball against Iowa State last Saturday in Norman, Okla. Knight is expected to start Saturday for Blake Bell, who is still recovering from a concussion).
Whether due to injuries or just a by-committee approach, the OU offense has proven difficult to get ready for, though the picture became clearer as the week wore on.
On Tuesday, Snyder and his players discussed the guessing game of facing three different Sooner quarterbacks and three talented running backs.
But on Wednesday, with Blake Bell still recovering from a concussion, sources out of Oklahoma determined redshirt freshman Trevor Knight will get the starting nod. Snyder, on Tuesday, said the team is preparing for all possibilities.
“The good thing is you can only get one (quarterback) on the field at a time,” Snyder said. “I say that with the reservation that you could potentially see two. We have always known Bell to be a guy that can run the football. When they put in (Knight) last week, he ran the football very well — he had one of those long-yardage plays for a touchdown.”
Snyder said the skill sets may differ to some degree, but in the end, each quarterback can hurt them in a variety of ways.
“They’re all good,” Snyder said. “I don’t think there is a significant difference in regards to them throwing the football. I don’t know, maybe we see the third one (Kendal Thompson), and I don’t know all of his capabilities other than the fact that I know he can run the football.”
“They’re going to play their game, and I think it will be vested in what they believe they can have success with against our defense. That’s what they’ll go with regardless of who the quarterback is.”
Knight is known more for his running ability than his passing. Coming in for the injured Bell a week ago, Knight ran for 123 yards while throwing for 61.
At running back, Oklahoma has spread the ball around between three backs, Brennan Clay, Damien Williams and Roy Finch. Clay and Williams receive most of the work, with 671 yards and 566 yards, respectively, while the 5-foot-7 Finch has run for 326 yards as a change-of-pace guy.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Williams, as well as wide receiver Lacoltan Bester, were each suspended for Saturday’s game in Manhattan, leaving Knight with two fewer weapons to help him run the offense against the Wildcats.
While Snyder credited the abilities of each of OU’s running backs, he also pointed to the team’s veteran offensive line, which helped create three big plays on the ground against Iowa State last weekend that totaled more than 200 of the Sooners’ 405 rushing yards.
“They are all very fine athletes,” Snyder said. “The defining factor in addition to that is they have five returning offensive line starters and they’re all big guys, and they’re all physical guys, and they’re all athletic guys. They do a nice job up front and that makes some of those things happen.”
Put it all together, and the Sooners’ offense is a formidable one, even if it will be playing some less-experienced players on Saturday.
For K-State’s defensive players, the thought of seeing multiple quarterbacks and running backs isn’t a new idea.
“We’ve seen it before, obviously last week with TCU, they had two quarterbacks,” linebacker Jonathan Truman said. “And we see good running backs, but Oklahoma has a few of them. So we have to prepare for their schemes and be ready for it.”
Safety Dante Barnett said Knight’s skills as a runner make him tough to contain.
“He can really run,” Barnett said. “Most people don’t notice, but he can really run the ball when it comes to those zone reads.
“The backs that they have are very athletic and good, and also their play-action pass is very good, so you can’t be too aggressive on the run with their play-action pass and their good receivers that go and make plays, too.”
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Knight has improved each week, despite losing his job along the way to Bell.
“It’s not surprising to us,” Stoops said. “Eight weeks down the road, you continue to practice and you continue to get better as you go through the year. Here it is, and he gets a chance to do it again and he’s more familiar with it, knows what to expect and handled it great.”