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August 30, 2013

Mobility behind center four years in making

NORMAN — In a sense, Oklahoma has been waiting for Saturday’s season opener for several years. Years ago, the coaching staff made the decision that quarterback mobility was going to be a factor in recruiting.

The ability to tuck the ball and run is a trait Blake Bell (2010), Kendal Thompson (2011), Trevor Knight (2012) and Cody Thomas (2013) all shared.

Bell’s shown the positive effect being able to block with 10 instead of nine can have in the Belldozer package the last two seasons. However, it’s Knight who gets to display the full ramifications Saturday night when the season begins against Louisiana-Monroe at Owen Field.

So why the pull the trigger now?

“We’ve just been fortunate to find guys that we like how they throw so well, and they happen to be able to run, too,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “We wouldn’t take any of them looking at their legs first. You know, it’s all about being able to throw the ball and pass the ball first, as we look at anybody, and then, hey, if there’s two of them awfully close, maybe this guy runs a little better than another guy, whatever. There are different reasons that you look for.”

The Sooners have witnessed what a weapon it can be for years. OU lost four of five to Texas from 2005-09. One of the major reasons for those losses was the Longhorns had quarterbacks — Vince Young (2005) and Colt McCoy (2006-09) — who could get out of the pocket and stretch defenses. They could turn busted plays into positive gains.

The emphatic stamp Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel put on his Heisman Trophy season was running wild against the Sooners in the AT T Cotton Bowl Classic.

“It’s kind of how the game’s evolving now with a mobile quarterback. The game’s changing a little bit,” OU center Gabe Ikard said.

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