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Oklahoma football: Trevor Knight's health is key to Sooners' title hopes

COMMENTARY — OU’s QB knows how to slide from his baseball days. He’ll need that skill to avoid injury if the Sooners are to have a successful season.
by Jenni Carlson Published: August 16, 2014

NORMAN — Trevor Knight played baseball until his junior year of high school.

Stole a lot of bases, too.

Which means he can slide.

If only the Sooners could get him to use that skill a little more on the football field. After all, injury knocked him out of almost half the games he started last season — two of the five — and this season, the Sooners simply can’t afford that kind of attrition rate from their quarterback.

Their championship hopes hinge on his health.

Bob Stoops is quite aware of the need to keep Knight on the field.

“Some injuries you just can’t avoid,” the Sooner coach said. “But at the quarterback position, regardless of how much or how little we run him, when he has the opportunity and he is out on the perimeter running, we want him to avoid and take as little contact as possible. Step out of bounds. Slide. Get down.

“If you already got 13 (yards), that’s good enough. Someone’s closing in on you? Slide. Get down. Avoid the big hits.”

Stoops said the coaches talked with Knight about that a year ago but would make it a topic of regular conversation this year.

I’m thinking that conversation might go something like this — “SLIDE!”

The Sooners need Knight healthy in part because of the way he elevates their offense. What he did with his arm in the Sugar Bowl, throwing for 348 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, took the offense to heights unseen for several seasons.

But the importance of Knight staying healthy goes beyond what he can do on the field; options behind him are currently scarce.

Last season, the Sooners were flush with seemingly capable quarterbacks. Knight. Blake Bell. Kendal Thompson. But now, Bell is playing tight end and Thompson took his talents to Salt Lake City.

Could Bell return to quarterback in the most dire of circumstances? Paul Thompson did, after moving to receiver, then moving back to quarterback when Rhett Bomar got booted. But all indications are that Bell is set at tight end.

That leaves redshirt freshman Cody Thomas and true freshman Justice Hansen backing up Knight. Neither has taken a snap in a game.

Baker Mayfield, of course, is also on campus, but his eligibility is uncertain. The NCAA might grant his appeal. It might not. If Mayfield is available, quarterback depth isn’t nearly as much of a problem. But as things stand right now, it’s thinner than a runway model.

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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