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Knight And Day: Stoops Facing Another Quarterback Decision

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Before we get started, let's throw out a few qualifiers.

-Yes, Iowa State's run defense came into Saturday ranked 102nd in the country and dead last in the Big 12.

-Yes, Trevor Knight finished the game just 8-of-14 for 66 yards passing.

-Yes, Blake Bell barely played a quarter against the Cyclones, leaving just after the second quarter started, a shot to the head from ISU linebacker Willie Scott the reason for his departure.

However, despite all those factors, it became clear on Saturday, during the Sooners' 48-10 dominating performance against the Cyclones, the best thing for Oklahoma is to have Trevor Knight leading the offense instead of Blake Bell.

There is a litany of reasons for this, but you could also make a case for keeping Bell as the starter. However, the biggest reason for (another) quarterback change in Norman is Knight's running ability is a bigger positive for the Sooners' offense than Bell's throwing ability.

Related Story: Big Plays Ignite Sooners In Rout Of Iowa State

Take for example Brennan Clay's 63-yard touchdown run. It was a simple option play up the middle, with Knight choosing to hand the ball to Clay, or take it around the right side of the offensive line himself. Iowa State safety Jacques Washington crept up to the line of scrimmage, sensing a run. Knight made the correct read and chose to hand to Clay, but still followed through with the play, making a move to the outside. That move, while subtle, took Washington to the outside of the formation and opened up the middle of the field, allowing Clay to race to the end zone untouched.

The personnel the Sooners have on offense is tailor-made for an option-style offense with Knight at the helm. The Sooners don't have a Wisconsin-like offensive line that average 6-foot-6, 350 pounds. It's a more athletic line, designed to get out in front of runners and block down the field. Plus, the Sooners spent a lot of the spring and summer installing the option and as soon as Knight went out against West Virginia, they scrapped that in favor for the more pass-oriented offense they had rolled out with Sam Bradford and Landry Jones.

The Sooners ate up 405 yards on the ground for the game, the most ever by a Bob Stoops coached team. You could argue that was only because Iowa State is terrible against the run, but that doesn't explain why the Sooners were only able to rush for 66 yards in the first half against the same defense. Also, the Sooners have run for over 300 yards three times this year. All three times, Knight was the main quarterback.

The fact is opponents have to account for Knight in a different way than they have to account for Bell. Knight is a completely different (and better) runner than Bell is. Heck, on Saturday, he even showed he's better at running the short yardage plays than Bell is—Knight powered through Cyclone defenders for tough yards on multiple occasions Saturday.

Now, to play quarterback at Oklahoma, you still have to be able to throw the ball, but Knight looked much improved in that area compared to his brief starting experience earlier in the season. He completed 8-of-14 passes for 66 yards, but was never put in a position to throw the ball in tough situations. He didn't have any horrible throws, except for a brutal miss of a wide-open Brennan Clay on a wheel route in the third quarter that would've resulted in a touchdown.

It's impossible to deny the impact Knight can have on a game is greater than the impact Bell can have. Knight's running ability is what sets the two apart and if the progress continues in the passing game for him, there's a good chance he could be the quarterback we all thought he could be.

A lot of Bob Stoops' decision on who to start against Kansas State next week will hinge on whether or not Bell is able to even play. Even if he is available, Stoops should think long and hard about which quarterback gives his offense the best chance to have success. If you ask me, that guy is Knight.

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