But above all else, OU will be asking Bell not to make mistakes. Stoops said he knew Knight was at least dealing with discomfort at halftime Saturday night, but OU’s medical staff cleared him to continue playing.
What ultimately forced the quarterback change wasn’t physical, it was three key mental mistakes Knight made in the third quarter. Two ended in red zone interceptions by West Virginia. Another, Knight’s first throw of the second half, was in the hands of a Mountaineer defender but dropped.
They’re mistakes OU’s coaching staff hopes Bell won’t make. If he does another change could quickly come. Sophomore Kendal Thompson returned to practice Monday. He’ll be the backup for the Tulsa game. If Bell struggles, he could be the guy by the Sept. 28 showdown at Notre Dame.
“We’ll see today at practice. I’m sure there’s some rust,” Stoops said. “Last week he was throwing, so I’m sure his arm will be in great condition. It’ll just be getting back the movement and running around. Kendal’s an excellent athlete. I expect him to knock off that rust off through the week and catch up pretty fast.”
The prognosis for Knight’s injury is one-to-two weeks. OU could have a three-quarterback competition as it heads into the off-week prior to the Notre Dame game.
For now, the job belongs to Bell. The junior, who has scored 24 touchdowns over the previous two seasons, finally gets his chance to run the gambit of OU’s offense.
His teammates have faith he can do it.
“Blake will be fine,” Clay said. “He’s going to assume that role. Blake has been in that position before. He’s always in the toughest position out there. He’s always been in the game when it’s on the line and he always comes out on top. So Blake is going to be a great guy for us this week. He’s going to help lead this offense.”