Berry Tramel

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Oklahoma football: Stoops takes stability over experimentation

by Berry Tramel Modified: November 12, 2013 at 8:30 am •  Published: November 11, 2013

Oklahoma's Trevor Knight (9) runs during an NCAA college football game between the University of Oklahoman (OU) Sooners and the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. Baylor won 41-12. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Trevor Knight (9) runs during an NCAA college football game between the University of Oklahoman (OU) Sooners and the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013. Baylor won 41-12. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Bob Stoops isn’t interested in playing for next season. Which is why you’ll see Blake Bell quarterbacking Saturday against Iowa State.

Want to know if Trevor Knight has settled down with his throws? Want to know if Kendal Thompson can play?

Sorry. That’s experimental. Stoops is not interested in experimenting.

“I guess you could if you’re just looking to next year,” Stoops said. “I could see where at times, an NFL team that’s got two wins and looking to next year might want to evaluate somebody. But not in our case.”

I can’t blame him for that. The Sooners still could finish strong. They also could go belly up. The difference between 10-3 and 8-5 is vast. I know fans will scream that it’s not, that if you’re not winning the Big 12 championship, what difference does it make anyway?

But it is. A 10-3, or heck, even 11-2, I suppose, is a far cry from 8-5. Changes the attitude of everyone. Returning players. Fan base. Administrators. Recruiting trail. If OU loses to Kansas State, OSU and, say, Southern Cal in the Holiday Bowl, then the forest is on fire.

If OU beats K-State, plays OSU tough win or lose in Stillwater, then beats UCLA in the Alamo Bowl, then everything looks better for 2014.

And besides, Stoops always presents a positive front. Not necessarily a positive spin. Big difference. A positive front. He doesn’t want anyone – more inside the program than outside – to believe that OU football is floundering in unbelief.

“I’m not going to sit here and make wholesale changes in the ninth game of the year,” Stoops said.

Stoops already made one quarterback change this year. A culture of instability is not good.

“Kendal’s done an awesome job,” Stoops said of Thompson’s progress. “We love what he’s doing. He’s got a bright future. It’s hard to overcome the initial, the way he started, missing 40 practices a year (because of injury). Are we going to go experiment to go find out? I don’t know that that’s the case … no, I’m not going to change what we’re doing with the quarterbacks.”

Stoops admitted that Bell’s play has been inconsistent. Very good against Tulsa, Notre Dame and Texas Tech. Not very good against TCU, Kansas, Texas and Baylor.

Stoops said the shotgun option package with Knight is “something we can continue to do. I didn’t feel that was disruptive. Come in, run the first play for nine yards, that’s not a problem. Not a different play that all our guys have to learn.”

Stoops said all his quarterbacks “throw it really well” in practice. “They’ve all got strong arms, they all can make the throws we need to throw.”

That sounds dubious to me. We’ve seen Bell not make the throws, and that’s what we saw out of Knight through seven quarters.

Who knows what Thompson would do? This we know. Stoops will take stability over experimentation. And deep down, virtually everyone – players, administrators, coaches, fans – would take the same, if it means more victories.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The...
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