NORMAN — Of the first six passes that Trevor Knight threw, more of them had a better chance of being intercepted than being completed.
His performance in Oklahoma’s spring game only improved slightly from there. He finished 5 of 14 for 53 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He looked more like a guy fighting for a job instead of getting Heisman hype.
When last the college football world saw the Oklahoma quarterback, he was carving up mighty Alabama. Saturday, the only way Knight could’ve carved up anything was if someone would’ve handed him a knife.
But take a deep breath, Sooner Nation. Knight will be fine. So will the Sooners.
“Today was certainly not his best day, not his best performance,” Sooner offensive coordinator Josh Heupel admitted. “Has he continued to make strides from the Sugar Bowl? Absolutely.”
We’ll have to take Heupel at his word since we have such a small window to evaluate, but there’s good reason to believe him. To believe that Knight has continued to build on the momentum of his Sugar Bowl magnificence. To believe that Saturday was the exception, not the rule.
For starters, Knight was playing with a ton of unproven playmakers Saturday. Receiver extraordinaire Sterling Shepard was sidelined by injury. Ditto for Durron Neal, the only other returning pass catcher who had more than a hundred yards last season.
The running back and fullback positions were equally thin on experience. No more Brennan Clay or Roy Finch or Trey Millard.
Heck, even the offensive line had a bunch of new faces with several veterans sidelined by injury.
But even if Knight had a bunch of experienced players around him, he’d have still been going against a defense that intimately knew every play that the offense ran Saturday. Sooner coach Bob Stoops said that in an intrasquad scrimmages like this, the defense always has something of an advantage because of how much it goes against the offense.
And when it’s a pretty good defense like this Sooner bunch is, that only adds to the level of difficulty.
“It’s not easy throwing it on Zack Sanchez … especially when he sees you every day, goes against you every day in pass skill, every day in team,” Stoops said. “All of a sudden, those receivers are squeezed.”