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Oklahoma football: When to pick a quarterback

by Berry Tramel Published: March 12, 2013

OU QBs Kendal Thompson, Blake Bell, and Trevor Knight

OU is staging a quarterback derby this spring. But expect to be sweating when Bob Stoops names a starter.

Stoops almost always waits until August to determine a starting quarterback, when he doesn’t have an incumbent. The notable exception was 2003, when Brent Rawls worked his way out of contention and Jason White was anointed in June – and won the Heisman Trophy six months later.

The OU formula is different from OSU, where Mike Gundy likes to name a starter before the spring semester ends.

Gundy’s theory: pick a leader so that all his offensive players know who to follow during summer workouts.

Stoops’ theory: keep everyone working hard, knowing that no job is earned until the last possible moment.

“If you look at it, we generally haven’t made the decision real early,” Stoops said. “Most of our battles have continued through the summer, through two-a-days. We want to see the continued competition.

“We may have in our minds who has the edge, but let’s see through the summer. We want to see that competition work through a good part of summer, into two-a-days.”

Stoops said all three scholarship quarterbacks – Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson – are in contention.

Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said of the leadership factor, “I think it’s important that all our guys lead in that way, whether they’re that guy or not. That’s extremely important.

“As far as competition into two-a-days, sometimes that drives guys throughout the entire summer, a sense of urgency they feel.

“There’s benefits, pluses and minuses, I guess. Ultimately, you can’t name a guy until you’ve got a guy.”

Alas, we won’t be giving you many eyewitness updates. The public’s and media’s only real view of the quarterbacks this spring will come in the spring game April 13. And that might not be very enlightening.

Concerning OU’s transition to an offense featuring a more-mobile quarterback, Stoops said, “We’ll do our best not to give away how we want to do it.”

Stoops did say of a quarterback derby, “I don’t think it’s nearly as disruptive to the team as people make it out to be. As long as you’re not changing offenses, as long as you’re still running and practicing the same plays.”

And of course, it’s not like the blue-jerseyed QBs are going to be hit, anyway. Stoops might not know until September who is his best quarterback.

“When guys are pretty equal or there isn’t a definitive edge, I think it’s fair in competition that you give ‘em their opportunities when you see in the moment, in the games, who’s going to step up and make the play, avoid the critical play,” Stoops said. “Sometimes you can’t see that until you’re out on the field. Then it works itself out.”


by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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