NORMAN — With Blake Bell behind center last weekend, Oklahoma's offense was clearly more effective and efficient than it was in the Sooners' first two games.
Bell completed more than 70 percent of his pass attempts, threw for 413 yards and tossed four touchdown passes. Oklahoma scored 51 points, doubling its combined scoring from wins over Louisiana-Monroe and West Virginia.
So how exactly did Trevor Knight outshine Bell and win the Sooners' starting quarterback position in the preseason?
Did the redshirt freshman buckle under the pressure of live game action? Could coaches really get a good feel for Knight's big-play ability when he's wearing a blue jersey and can't be hit in practice? Is Bell just a “gamer” who doesn't practice well but kicks it up a notch in games?
Whatever it was, Bob Stoops adamantly denied Monday that his staff picked an offense, not a quarterback.
“No truth to that whatsoever,” Stoops said.
Oklahoma's offense, though, looked entirely different against Tulsa than it did with Knight running the show. There were fewer read-option plays and many more snaps out of formations with four wide receivers.
“We would have been in four wides with Trevor in the game, too,” Stoops said. “First of all, defenses are different. … We can pick and choose when we want to be this, when we want to be that. That's all part of game planning. As we've gone through the entire spring and summer, there isn't an offense for one guy and an offense for another guy.”
Knight displayed flashes of his potential — especially in the run game — during his two starts, but struggled mightily with his arm.
He completed less than 45 percent of his pass attempts for only 205 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.
“We didn't play as efficient as we're capable of — or what we showed today — the first two ballgames,” co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said after the Tulsa game. “Some of that's the quarterback. Some of that's the guys around him.”
Stoops made a quarterback change in the fourth quarter of the Sooners' second game. The switch, Stoops said, was made because of both Knight's performance and a knee injury he suffered on a late-first half quarterback keeper.
Knight was ruled out for the Tulsa game, giving Bell an opportunity to seize hold of the job, which he did.
OU is off this weekend, but Bell will start Oklahoma's Sept. 28 game at Notre Dame.
“You can't simulate live action,” Stoops said when asked if Bell showed anything against Tulsa that he didn't in preseason practices. “Everything we saw leading up… I've always said Blake could throw the football. Everyone finally got to see it. He's always thrown it well in practice. And so do the other guys. At the end of the day he took advantage and he was excellent when he was on the field.”