By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Was it the plays or the execution that looked so different in Oklahoma’s victory over Kansas State last Saturday?
The answer is some of both, but the Sooners insist the offense has not gone through a major overhaul in the last game and a half since Trevor Knight took over starting quarterback duties from Blake Bell.
“We’ve had that all through spring and all through two-a-days. It’s all stuff that we’ve worked on,” center Gabe Ikard said Tuesday. “Obviously, with Trevor taking over for Blake, we played to his strengths. We let him use his feet and God-given talent to run the football. That played to the strength of our personnel and that’s something our coaches do very well.”
Over the last six quarters, the Sooners are averaging 7.9 yards per play. Most of that has been rushing yards. Brennan Clay rushed for 200 against the Wildcats. Knight’s running ability has obviously elevated that aspect of the offense.
However, Knight has also thrown the ball better in the last two games than he did when he started the first two games.
Over the last six quarters, Knight has completed 18-of-29 attempts for 198 yards, including the 12-yard touchdown pass to Sterling Shepard on the opening drive against the Wildcats.
“Anytime you hit shots, it looks you’re playing to your strengths,” Knight said Tuesday. “What we did running the ball made the passing game open up. It made the game go a lot smoother than it did in the first couple weeks, because I wasn’t hitting any shots then.”
Hitting some shots will be crucial when the 20th-ranked Sooners (9-2, 6-2) face No. 7 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1) at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater.
Passing efficiency is the element OU missed in Knight’s initial starts against Louisiana-Monroe and West Virginia. In those games, Knight completed just 43.8 percent of his passes. He threw four touchdown passes in those first two games. OU averaged just 4.2 yards per attempt. Against Kansas State, the Sooners averaged 8.1 yards per attempt.
“We’ve been trying to do a lot of that stuff over the course of the year,” OU co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Jay Norvell said. “I think Trevor was really dialed in and focused. He was really prepared to do the things we were asking him to do.
You could tell he was comfortable out there. I thought our team played with a lot of tempo and efficiency because of that. Everyone snapped into place and responded.”
OU has started implementing its game plan for the Oklahoma State game this week. It will take Thursday through Sunday off for Thanksgiving and get back to work on Monday.
But don’t expect OU to use that time to go deep into the playbook and try to re-invent what they’ve been doing.
Since re-inserting Knight, tweaks have been made, but it’s all things the Sooners started working on last March.
The Sooners want to be able throw it short and deep and run inside and outside.
“We did all that in the first drive (against Kansas State),” Norvell said. “When you can do that to a defense you can get them on their heels a little bit and do some of the things you really want to do.”
It may have taken until the middle of November to get there, but OU suddenly seems to have that kind of offense heading into Bedlam.
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