NORMAN — At this time a year ago, Oklahoma had named Trevor Knight its starting quarterback for the season opener, but the Sooners hadn’t gone all in on him.
OU coaches still spent time practicing the plays Blake Bell ran well. Knight started the first two games of the season with one eye looking over his shoulder.
Entering Oklahoma’s 2014 season opener — set for 6 p.m. Saturday against Louisiana Tech — Knight is again the starting quarterback, but this year, there is no trepidation among Sooner coaches and players.
“I feel like the direction of the offense, not having two quarterbacks and trying to tailor things to two different guys and being able to have it all geared towards Trevor … I believe it’s going to lead to more consistency in the offense and in our quarterback play,” said OU coach Bob Stoops.
“I believe we’re much further along knowing exactly how we want the offense to work.”
Knight, a redshirt sophomore, was voted a team captain along with four seniors — offensive tackle Daryl Williams, defensive end Chuka Ndulue, cornerback Julian Wilson, kicker Michael Hunnicutt — and junior linebacker Eric Striker.
“I’ve just kind of stepped into that leadership role,” Knight said. “Maybe matured a little bit. I’ve got another year under my belt. I’m feeling more relaxed. I’m feeling more confident in the way things are going to go this first game, and that comes with it.
“I expect to stand up here next year and say the same thing. Each snap you get, each year you get, you get more confident and get more relaxed back there.”
Last year, the Sooners announced that Knight would start the season opener after winning a preseason quarterback battle with Bell, a junior who was long expected to win the job. Despite Knight being the starter, though, OU coaches continued to practice the things Bell did well, preparing for the possibility that he might end up playing, too.
The two quarterbacks were both much more mobile than the previous Sooner signal caller, four-year starter Landry Jones, but Knight’s quickness and elusiveness made certain plays — namely, zone read stuff — more suited to him.
After Knight’s Sugar Bowl MVP performance last January against Alabama, Bell moved to tight end, meaning the Sooners are now able to focus exclusively on what Knight does well in the offense.
“They were a different style,” said offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “I think you saw that, depending on who was playing, in football games last year.
“At the end of the day, when you have a guy, you're able to take your offense more in a certain direction. That's what we've been able to do from where we were last year to where we're at now.”