MOORE — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops gave his assessment of starting quarterback Trevor Knight’s debut Monday morning during the Big 12 coaches teleconference.
“He did some things really well with his legs. When you rush for over 100 yards, that part of it was really good,” he said. “Throwing the ball early wasn’t very good, but I have great confidence in how he does throw the football. Once he settles down and gets more comfortable with the situation, I expect him to throw the ball in a better way.”
Knight rushed for 103 yards but completed just 11-of-28 passes for 86 yards in the Sooners’ 34-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. He was able to throw three touchdown passes.
“He made some nice throws, particularly in the second half,” Stoops added. “He’s got a great arm, so it’s just getting him comfortable to manage and handle the situation better early.”
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.
Wilson is a 2010 graduate of Southmoore.
Earn their way back: Cornerback Cortez Johnson and defensive tackle Chuka Ndulue both missed the opener due to a one-game suspension. Neither has earned their starting jobs back.
Stoops said Zack Sanchez, who started at the left cornerback spot in Johnson’s absence, still has the job.
“Right now he will,” the coach said. “It’s been tight all along anyways. Zack’s played really well. Exciting to see him playing like that.”
It will be the same case for Ndulue.
“He’ll have to earn his way on the field,” Stoops said.
Give it time: The Sooners rushed for 305 yards against Louisiana-Monroe. One of the reasons was the zone-read options they installed in the offseason. Stoops said adding that to the offense was the most difficult wrinkle added since last season.
“People think you just run it. It’s a time investment, and it’s a big time investment,” he said. “You ask anyone who wants to run the option, you don’t just run it. It has to be drilled and drilled and drilled. There’s a huge time investment with certain plays.”
Slower pace: OU ran 83 plays against Louisiana-Monroe, which was about six more plays than it averaged per game last season. Still, there weren’t many snaps with 20 seconds or more on the play clock. Running back Brennan Clay said Knight being at quarterback for the first time had nothing to do with the pace.
“I think it was hard Saturday night because it was so hot. I feel like we were extremely tired out there. The heat was really getting to us,” he said. “I believe it doesn’t change at all. We’re still gonna hit that tempo. We’re still gonna hit those outside zones, those inside zones and we’re gonna keep it rolling.”
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.
OU-West Virginia tickets available: The OU Athletics Ticket Office announced Monday, a limited number of tickets for Saturday’s game are available due to returned tickets from West Virginia.
The tickets are $92 and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis and are subject to availability. Tickets may also be purchased via phone at 325-2424 or toll-free at 800-456-4668 or in person at the OU ticket office during regular business hours.
OU also is encouraging fans to participate in another, “Stripe the Stadium” for the West Virginia game.
Fans who have tickets in even-numbered seating sections should wear crimson, and fans in odd numbered seating sections should wear white. The general admission student section should all wear crimson to this contest.