MANHATTAN, Kan. — Trevor Knight led the procession of Sooners in a post-game high-five fest with Oklahoma fans who braved hostile territory and frigid temperatures.
All along the way, there were congratulations for the Sooner quarterback.
And if they had more than a fleeting moment with him, the Sooner fans might've thanked Knight, too. That's because he put the brakes on the quarterback carousel.
Knight is the guy.
On a day OU scored its most impressive win of the season, a 41-31 victory against Kansas State in a tough environment on a frigid afternoon against a hot team, the Sooners also found themselves a quarterback. Knight replaced Blake Bell, who suffered a concussion last week, and gave Sooner coaches no reason to think they should go back to Bell once he's healthy.
“Trevor was great throwin' and runnin',” Sooner coach Bob Stoops said.
Knight was a terror when he ran on zone reads or designed quarterback scampers. He rushed for 82 yards on 14 carries and made a couple runs that can't be coached.
Late in the first quarter with the Sooners facing third and 5 pinned deep in their own end, the Wildcats flushed Knight out of the pocket. He scrambled left, looking, looking, looking for a receiver. When he finally realized that no receiver was coming open, he decided to run for it.
But first, he pump faked.
It got a defender into the air, and as soon as the Wildcat was off the ground, Knight scampered to the sideline.
“That improvisation is really special,” Sooner co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said, “and it's hard to defend.”
Remember when teammates said before the season that Knight had some Johnny Manziel in him?
Plays like that third down run make you understand what they saw.
“Eventually, I want to be a guy that can make my reads and make those third down passes,” Knight said, “but I think it's good that I have the ability to make those plays on third and fourth down.”
The way Knight threw it Saturday, you can see those late-down throws coming sooner rather than later. He went 14 of 20 for 171 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the Wildcats.
His performance was made all the more impressive by the fact that the conditions were tough. The Flint Hills wind was whipping, and it was so arrestingly cold that several fans inside the stadium required CPR.
Knight looked completely comfortable, though.
And that interception? It was because of a receiver mistake, a route Knight was expecting would be cut off but wasn't.
“There's no doubt with his speed, his ability to make cuts and run the football, he's dangerous back there,” Sooner center Gabe Ikard said. “For him to be able to make plays in the pass game and keep this offense balanced was huge today. I think that's one of the big reasons we had success.”
It started right away. Knight was 3 of 3 on the Sooners' first possession, throwing three great balls. A 15-yarder to Jalen Saunders on a rollout. A 22-yarder to Durron Neal on a play-action. A 12-yarder to Sterling Shepard on a slant for a touchdown.
That kept the Wildcats honest and set up what the Sooners did the rest of the day, gashing the defense for 301 yards rushing.
Truthfully, this is the look that we thought the Sooners would have this season — a run-first offense with lots of quarterback run and effective passing — but it's the offense we thought the Sooners would have because this is the quarterback we thought they'd have. Knight finally played the way he always seemed capable, finally had definitive answers for all the Sooners' quarterback questions.
“I thought he really matured today,” Norvell said. “To play this well on the road, in these elements ... I thought it was a huge step for Trevor.”
It was a pretty big one for the Sooners, too.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.