NORMAN — Eight months after subpar spring game performances, Jason White and Sam Bradford won the 2003 and 2008 Heisman Trophies, respectively.
So Oklahoma fans concerned after Trevor Knight’s showing in Saturday’s Red-White Game probably should take a deep breath.
This isn’t anything new for Bob Stoops-era Sooner quarterbacks.
“The disadvantage for the offense is always the case, with the defense so familiar with them,” Stoops said after Saturday’s scrimmage.
The Sooners wrapped up spring practices Tuesday, and now get a little time off before summer workouts, and then fall camp. Oklahoma opens its 2014 season Aug. 30 at home against Louisiana Tech.
Knight enters the season with sky-high expectations following his Sugar Bowl MVP performance in Oklahoma’s upset of two-time defending national champion Alabama, but in his two public outings since then, he hasn’t looked terribly impressive.
The Sooners opened a portion of last Thursday’s practice for students, and Knight’s first pass was intercepted by Dakota Austin.
Two days later, Knight completed only 5 of 14 passes for 53 yards and an interception in the Red-White Game.
“After 14 practices you kind of get a feel for what the other side of the ball is doing,” Knight said. “The name of the game is execution. You can tell them what you’re doing, but you still have to execute. We have to be sharper on those kinds of things, but I feel like we did a decent job in some areas.”
Eleven springs ago, Jason White was returning from a second consecutive ACL tear and competing with Brent Rawls to be the Sooners’ starting quarterback in 2003.
White threw for only 70 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, while Rawls was much more efficient, completing 11 of 17 attempts for 183 yards with a touchdown and a pick.
White, of course, won the job, the Heisman Trophy and led OU to an appearance in the BCS national championship game, while Rawls never took a collegiate snap. He transferred to Louisiana Tech in September 2003 but never played there.
Five years after that, Bradford completed just 12 of 25 passes for 191 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in the 2008 spring game, but, like White, won that year’s Heisman Trophy and led the Sooners to a national-title game appearance.
That year, though, Bradford was the unquestioned starting quarterback regardless of a rough spring-game outing. He’d started every game the season before, leading OU to the 2007 Big 12 title.
Similarly, Knight isn’t in any danger of losing his job. The only quarterback who played significantly better than him Saturday was Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield, who is ineligible in 2014 and spent most of the afternoon playing against backup defenders.
“He’s by no means a finished product,” said OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “The great thing about him is he’s going to come to work tomorrow and keep pushing himself to get better.”