NEW ORLEANS — While Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight was rolling to his right, looking for an open receiver early in the fourth quarter Thursday night, his coaches started to panic.
“We're all yelling, ‘don't do it, don't do it,'” Bob Stoops said Friday morning.
“Good for him.”
Knight pump faked, threw the ball into the end zone and connected with Sterling Shepard for a 9-yard touchdown.
Asked if those are the sorts of plays Stoops saw from Knight in fall camp, the coach said, “I saw more of the ones that are on time that he makes and can throw. He can extend plays with his ability — his feet.
“You have to be careful with that one. When you throw back in inside it's dangerous. Every now and then, you just have to do it and make a play and he did.”
Alabama's defense had been notoriously suspect against mobile quarterbacks; the Crimson Tide's only two losses in the past two seasons — before Thursday — came against Texas A&M and Auburn, whose offenses are led by Johnny Manziel and Nick Marshall, respectively.
Still, no one could've expected Knight to perform as well as he did, especially with his arm. The redshirt freshman from San Antonio had displayed his dynamic playmaking ability with his legs, but before Thursday's showing, hadn't used his mobility to extend passing plays, nor had he delivered accurate passes while on the move.
Knight finished completing 32 of 44 pass attempts for 348 yards and four touchdowns against Alabama, setting a Sugar Bowl record for completions.
The Sooners' first offensive series of the game ended when a Knight pass deflected off Jalen Saunders' hands and was intercepted, but on the first play of the next drive, Knight connected with Lacoltan Bester for a 45-yard score.
“The more snaps you get, the more comfortable you feel,” Knight said. “The more completions you get, the more comfortable you feel. It's all about just getting in that rhythm, hitting a few shots early … moving forward from that, going into next year and everything, that's what we're going to ride on.”