The Norman Transcript

September 2, 2013

OU coaches sticking to their guns

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Most of the changes Oklahoma displayed in Saturday’s 34-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe were no secret. The Sooners said they planned to run the ball more and they did. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops hinted he wanted to use three defensive linemen as a base front and that was the case.

One thing that changed was the use of Blake Bell. The Sooners did not use him in short-yardage situations Saturday.

Early in the second quarter, it faced a third-and-1, but starting quarterback Trevor Knight stayed on the field and ran for five yards. It was first of two third-and-short situations OU converted for first downs on its initial scoring drive.

Bell didn’t play until late in the third quarter.

“I thought Blake (Bell) came in and he threw the ball well there at the end and ran our offense well,” OU coach Bob Stoops said.

Bell threw for 38 yards and rushed for 10 more on two carries.

Tapper excels: Sophomore defensive end Charles Tapper made his first career start and finished with three tackles. However, OU coach raved about the performance following the game.

“Charles has a chance to be one of the guys that we are used to having around here,” Stoops said. “We have had a lot of good ones and he is on par as a young guy. He’s as good as any of them. We just have to keep bringing him along and he works hard. He has got great athletic ability, he can run, he has got stamina and he’s strong.”

Cornerback controversy: OU played without starting defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue and cornerback Cortez Johnson. Both served one-game suspensions due to offseason arrests.

The absence of Johnson moved redshirt freshman Zack Sanchez into a starting role and finished with three tackles and one of OU’s four pass breakups.

“Zack Sanchez had a heck of a game as a redshirt freshman, first time out there. He was challenging, competed, and had tight coverage,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “I thought he did a really good job.”

There hasn’t been announcement on whether Johnson will get his job back as the Sooners prepare to face West Virginia Saturday.

Start for Kasitati: The only clear change from OU’s depth chart came at right guard. Sophomore Nila Kasitati started ahead of senior Bronson Irwin. Although, early on began rotating into the spot in the second quarter.

Historical perspective: Trevor Knight’s 103-yard rushing performance was the most by an OU quarterback since the late Steve Davis rushed for 110 in the Sooners’ 1973 season opener.

Davis went on to lead OU to a 32-1-1 record and two national championships in his three seasons as starting quarterback from 1973-75.

First pick: Nickelback Julian Wilson came up with OU’s only turnover of the game by picking off a tipped pass on the sixth play of the third quarter. It was the first interception of Wilson’s career.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com