NORMAN — The zone read didn’t go away completely for Oklahoma in a stunning 45-31 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl more than seven months ago.
But in that win, Trevor Knight’s performance with his arm — 347 yards and four touchdowns — overshadowed the bit of the quarterback option/run game that the Sooners showed.
With all the attention on Knight’s arm entering this season, the zone read will continue to be a big part of Oklahoma’s offense.
“It’s not something you run every play,” Sooners co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. “It’s a changeup, and that threat is always there even if you don’t run it. That’s one of the biggest things with that part of our package is that it’s always something the defense has to concentrate on.”
There’s no doubt it gave Alabama plenty to focus on even if Knight ran for just 7 yards on five carries in that game — only one for more than 2 yards.
The Crimson Tide had been burned by mobile quarterbacks Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and Nick Marshall of Auburn earlier in the season.
After the way Knight and the Sooners adjusted by beating Alabama through the air, defenses figure to adjust and be more mindful of Knight’s arm, opening up the run game.
“From week to week it’ll always be different, but in most things we’ll do he’ll have the option to pull it once in awhile,” coach Bob Stoops said before turning his attention to another focus of OU’s quarterback run game this season: Keeping Knight healthy.
The zone read game left Knight battered a few times last season, helping contribute to the back and forth with him and Blake Bell as the starting quarterback.
“Hopefully he’ll get what’s there and avoid big collisions — you get out of bounds, slide, don’t be greedy,” Stoops said.
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