Trevor Knight began to impress his Oklahoma coaches and teammates early last season with his work running the scout team.
But Sooner defenders' praise of the freshman quarterback drastically increased after a month of Cotton Bowl preparations, when Knight played the role of Texas A&M superstar and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops spoke Monday about Knight's skills and what makes him a tough player to defend.
“He can make explosive plays, and that's the one thing you know about him: He can make a bad play a good play,” Stoops said. “He has that uncanny ability to make plays on his feet and he can make plays with his arm. He's very multidimensional. He brings a variety of different skills to the game. His ability to run away from you is no joke. He has legit speed.”
Asked if Knight's performance before the Cotton Bowl was when he began to realize how special he was, Stoops said he knew it before then.
“I coached him, so I oughta get most of the credit,” Stoops said with a laugh. “I coached him for a year, so I take a little bit of that pat on the back myself for getting him ready.”
HEUPEL ANXIOUS TO SEE KNIGHT
Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said Tuesday that while he's comfortable with what he knows about Knight, he's not sure until he sees Knight in action.
“You think you know what you have all the time,” Heupel said. “But when the lights come on and they get hit in the mouth and they have to distribute the ball in front of 85,000, when it doesn't go well, how do they respond? Certainly, you're going to find those things out about all your players, but your quarterback as well.”
Heupel wouldn't detail how much of the offense OU would show on Saturday or how different the offense would look.
“We'll see some of it on Saturday,” Heupel said.
Then he was asked if all of it would be shown on Saturday.
BERRY REMEMBERS LAST VISIT TO NORMAN
Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry remembers his last visit to Norman vividly.
In 1979, Berry was a true freshman playing for Tulsa when the Golden Hurricane came into Owen Field.
“We're standing there getting ready to go out on the field and my head coach, John Cooper, was looking over at Barry Switzer, who was their head coach at the time, and I'm like ninth in the tunnel,” Berry told The News Star. “Billy Sims is their running back over there, so it's a regionally televised game and I'm excited. I'm feeling good too. I'm feeling real good. We come running out on the field and I'm strutting a little bit.”
Defensive lineman George Gilbert was on Berry's heels and eventually knocked into his heels, sending Berry tumbling.
“I go into a forward roll on regional television coming out of the tunnel,” Berry said. “Fortunately, we worked and awful lot on forward rolls and I was up and — I had my name on the back of my jersey and I was looking for the largest crowd that I could duck into so nobody could read my number or my name.”
Oklahoma won that game 49-13.
SAUNDERS LOOKING FORWARD TO BEING OUTSIDE
Last season, Jalen Saunders was used primarily in the slot.
But the transfer from Fresno State will be outside more this season, though co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said Saunders would see time at both positions this year.
Saunders is excited for the time on the outside, though.
“Playing on the outside in the conference, on this team, it's a pleasure to even play that position, Saunders said. “You can be the deep threat. You get to run natural routes, I guess you can say.”
There are some challenges to being outside, though, especially going up against defensive backs rather than linebackers.
“Just a little bit,” Saunders said. “You have to be more physical outside than you are in the slot.”