The Norman Transcript

September 5, 2013

Heupel:Knight’s pass numbers will improve

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight passed his first major test in the season-opening 34-0 victory against Louisiana-Monroe. Winning always comes with a passing grade.

However, his struggles throwing the ball (11-for-28 for 86 yards) left a lot to be desired.

OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel hopes the struggles were related to nervous energy.

“I think it’s just his first game, you know what I mean? His first time in front of 85,000 at home, you know what I mean? A bunch of energy,” Heupel said. “He did some really good things. He’s just got to settle down and be a little more accurate with the football. His decision-making, he was rushing through his reads a little bit. But in the second half he settled down. I expect to come out this week and play extremely well from the very beginning.”

It takes time: OU unveiled the zone read as part of its offense last Saturday and the quarterback run game figures to be an offensive staple this season.

What’s surprising is how long ago the Sooners started working on that wrinkle. They began working on it in December 2012 prior to bowl preparations.

“There were a couple things we did before the Cotton Bowl, playing around with some things when some of the young guys were getting reps,” Heupel said. “Most of it happened in January and then into spring ball.”

OU coach Bob Stoops said getting the timing and options down were a trying process. Installing something new is often that way.

However, Heupel said the players were enthused about adding it and it helped the process.

“Our guys loved it. They were excited about it. It’s something different,” he said. “I think you learn a little bit as you go as well, what works, what doesn’t, your coaching points. We’re continuing to get better at it.”

Less could be more: If the first game was any indication, OU’s days of throwing the ball 50 times a game are over for at least this season. However, OU’s best receiver, Jalen Saunders, sees a major benefit in the offensive direction — more big-play opportunities for the receivers.

“It is putting a lot of the corners on an island and forcing the safeties to play the run more,” he said. “I think the offense is looking a lot better with the style that we switched up to. I’m real excited for it.”

Saunders only caught three passes against Louisiana-Monroe, but two went for touchdowns.

No jumping: Georgia lost its best receiver, Malcolm Mitchell, to a season-ending knee injury during a celebration in last Saturday’s game at Clemson.

The news of injury was related to OU’s players, leading to new celebration rules.

“I told my guys if you’re gonna chest-bump, go up about that high (about an inch off the ground). Just barely get off the ground,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “I told them Monday when we broke the thing, just go up about that much.”

He’ll find out Saturday when OU plays West Virginia whether players fully understand he’s basically outlawed the jumping chest bump.

“They halfway chuckled, but I said I’m serious,” he said. “Hopefully they will. They generally listen to me.”

Hancock to speak at OU: Bill Hancock, executive director of the BCS and College Football Playoff, will speak at OU at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Hancock will talk inside Gaylord Hall, located just west of the football stadium. The session is open to the public.

Hancock, an OU graduate, is speaking as part of the Gaylord College’s Centennial, celebrating 100 years of OU journalism education.

He will be the executive director of the College Football Playoff, the new system to crown a national champion that begins next year.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn