By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — If Blake Bell cannot play Saturday at Kansas State, then redshirt Trevor Knight will be OU’s starting quarterback.
Where does that leave sophomore Kendal Thompson?
Still behind Knight on the depth chart.
“It’s not that he’s not in the mix. It’s just that we’re not gonna go and just try it out now and see how it goes. You just don’t do that,” OU coach Bob Stoops said.
Thompson saw his first game action in the victory over Iowa State. He guided an eight-play, 90-yard touchdown drive on the Sooners’ final possession.
Knight was 2 for 4 for 47 yards, rushed for 21 yards and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Ripkowski.
Stoops said OU had increased Thompson’s practice reps throughout the season. If Bell cannot practice this week, Thompson will receive all those practice reps.
But Stoops did say Thompson’s performance was an eye-opener.
“Definitely, in that we’ve been comfortable and felt that Kendal when he has his opportunity will handle it well. And he went in there and did it, to no surprise to us,” he said. “He’s a talented guy. He’s got confidence. He went in there and did a nice job.”
OU picks up another commitment: The Sooners collected their third verbal commitment in the last two days Monday. Roseville (Calif.) Community College linebacker Devante Bond announced he has committed to OU.
Bond, rated as three-star recruit at outside linebacker, committed to Miami (Fla.) last year, but failed to qualify. He is the 18th commitment in the 2014 recruiting class. Verbal commitments are non-binding. Incoming freshman are not allowed to sign letters of intent until Feb. 5, but junior college transfers can sign next month.
Slow starts: OU hasn’t scored a first-quarter touchdown since the Notre Dame game and has been shutout in the opening 15 minutes the last four games.
Stoops said the coaching has done some different things in practice to try to get off to better starts, but nothing has worked.
“It’s frustrating. We have been. We’ve done different things. At the start of practice, we’ve gone a tempo period trying to start fast,” he said. “We just haven’t executed real well right out of the start. It’s hard to say why, it really is. Because then all of a sudden it’s clicking and you haven’t changed anything.”
The Sooners are averaging 3.3 first-quarter points a game. Its opponents have averaged 5.0.
Early to rise: The Sooners will play a second straight 11 a.m. game Saturday. Coaches, typically, love the early starts and some of the players do to — especially when the game is on the road.
Others, however, are not fans of the early kickoff times.
“We have to wake up around 7:30 (a.m.), or we meet at 7:30, so you’re up early,” OU safety Gabe Lynn said. “It’s late in the season. It’s a grind, but that’s part of it.”
Accolade for Saunders: Wide receiver Jalen Saunders was named the Big 12 Co-Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts in OU’s 48-10 win over Iowa State. Saunders shared the honor with Kansas State kicker Jack Cantele who hit a game-winning 41-yard field goal with three seconds remaining to give the Wildcats a 33-31 win over TCU.
Saunders returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown against the Cyclones. The punt return tied as the third-longest in OU history. Saunders currently ranks second in the Big 12 in punt return average (13.5).
Bedlam won’t be at night: The Big 12 Conference announced Monday the Bedlam Game kickoff time has been narrowed to 11 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. The Dec. 7 regular-season finale at Oklahoma State will be televised by either ABC or FOX.
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