NORMAN — During a brief chat last week with a source close to one OU quarterback, the conversation shifted to the Sooners' Sugar Bowl tilt against No. 3 Alabama.
Unprovoked, the source laughed and acknowledged the elephant in the room.
“Your guess is as good as mine.”
Indeed, it seems as if no one — maybe even Oklahoma coaches themselves at this point — know who will start Jan. 2 at quarterback for the Sooners in the Superdome.
OU coach Bob Stoops said the choice between junior Blake Bell and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight will be a “game time decision.”
But truthfully, this doesn't have to be any big deal. OU's best strategy for offensive success against the mighty Crimson Tide could be as simple as using Bell and Knight, and using them both a lot.
First of all, the Sooners aren't fooling anyone into believing that Bell can run the read option like Knight, or that Knight can consistently throw the ball like Bell.
OU hasn't established a consistent, firm offensive identity all season long, so it certainly isn't going to settle that issue in the last game of the season against one of the best teams in the country.
Bell, who started eight games this season and was extraordinary at times and ineffective at others, entered the Bedlam game a third option behind Knight and sophomore Kendal Thompson.
Senior center Gabe Ikard said Bell received “maybe five reps all week in practice” before the Oklahoma State game, but after Knight separated a shoulder and Thompson struggled, Bell rose to the occasion and played a great fourth quarter, leading the Sooners to a 33-24 upset victory.
OU coaches essentially tossed out their run-heavy, option game plan when Bell took over, and it worked. But before Knight's injury late in the first half, he'd managed the game well, rushing for 47 yards on 11 carries.
Knight is already back practicing and expects to be at full strength for the Sugar Bowl.
“We mixed and matched and some of it was planned and some of it wasn't,” said offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “You have a couple different injuries that happened in the last couple weeks of the season. You try to put those guys in position to be successful.
“We'll have a mixture of a little bit of everything heading into the Sugar Bowl and try to give ourselves a chance to win the ballgame.”
Winning the ballgame is Oklahoma's primary objective in the Sugar Bowl, as it should be. Establishing an identity or picking up momentum for next season are nice, too, but winning the game — even with a scattered, patched-together offense — will take care of some of those secondary goals anyway.
“I think all year, we've all done a great job of everyone just working together and you know, it's a unit,” Bell said. “It's not just one guy, it's the whole unit and everyone preparing and fighting each day like you could go in at any moment.”