The Norman Transcript

November 20, 2013

With Bell injured, Knight gets nod to start against Kansas State

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma’s offensive personnel is going to be different Saturday against Kansas State, but it’s not necessarily by choice.

Two sources told the Transcript Wednesday afternoon that redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight has practiced exclusively with the first team since Monday and is expected to be the starter Saturday.

Knight, however, will not have the opportunity to hand the ball to senior running back Damien Williams or throw to senior receiver Lacoltan Bester. KOCO-TV was the first to report Wednesday that both have been suspended for the game.

OU coach Bob Stoops did not shed any light on the situation following Wednesday’s practice.

“Those kinds of things I always leave to announce until after the game,” Stoops said.

A source confirmed to the Transcript Wednesday afternoon that Williams has been suspended for a violation of team rules, but did not know what the violation was or how long Williams’ suspension will last.

Two sources told the Transcript neither player has practiced since Monday.

Whether or not Knight has the job based on his performance, or as the Oklahoman reported Wednesday, due to a concussion Blake Bell suffered in the Iowa State game, the Transcript could not confirm.

Sources told the Transcript that Bell has been at practice the last two days, but has not participated in any live drills or done anything more than light throwing.

OU coach Bob Stoops did not shed any light on the situation following Wednesday’s practice.

“Why ask me?” he said. “You guys have all your reports. All I know is he’s visiting with the doctor Thursday and that will determine it. So I don’t know yet.”

Stoops has not said what kind of injury Bell suffered against Iowa State and declined to comment again Wednesday.

“I’ll say after the game what the doctor determined,” he said.

Under that scenario it seems unlikely Bell would play against the Wildcats after missing four full practices.

Williams is the Sooners’ second-leading rusher with 553 yards on the season and a single game season-high 123 yards rushing against Iowa State game. Williams has rushed for a team-high seven touchdowns. This, however, would be his second suspension of the season. He was held out of the Tulsa game on Sept. 14 due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.

Bester is the Sooners’ third-leading receiver with 20 catches for 279 yards. He has one touchdown reception and threw for another one earlier this year against Kansas.

How the absence of three starters affects the offense is up for debate. Knight hasn’t started since the second game of the season and did lose the job after throwing two interceptions in a 16-7 victory over West Virginia. He also suffered a knee injury that kept him out of practice for a week.

But he did ignite the offense when entered in the second quarter of the Sooners’ 48-10 victory over Iowa State. The Sooners averaged 12.02 yards per play in the second half of that game.

Of course, Williams had touchdown runs of 69 and 19 yards in the game. He’s shared time with senior Brennan Clay, who is OU’s leading rusher, and senior Roy Finch at running back the last two seasons.

With Williams out of the rotation, redshirt freshman Alex Ross will move up to the No. 3 spot in the depth chart. Ross had two carries for 11 yards against the Cyclones.

But offensive coordinator Josh Heupel hinted Ross would have a bigger role when he met with reporters Tuesday.

“We need him to continue to come on,” he said of Ross. “He’s got all of the physical attributes to be a really good player here. We’re going to need him down the stretch, and certainly in years to come, too.”

True freshman running back Keith Ford suffered a leg injury Nov. 7 against Baylor and hasn’t returned to practice.

Bester’s absence will likely mean more playing time for senior Jaz Reynolds, sophomore Durron Neal, junior Trey Franks and freshman Derrick Woods.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn


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