LAWRENCE, Kan. — Bob Stoops likes to stick with a quarterback.
He insists it isn't a philosophy.
Clearly, though, it's a preference. Whether he's leaving in a starter late into a rout or standing behind a guy who's hit a rough patch, the Oklahoma coach has rarely gone to the next man up.
Then again, he's never been in a position quite like this.
After a charmed 14-season run of quarterbacks who could sling it around pretty darn well, OU now finds itself with a quarterback conundrum. The Sooners are half way through the season and don't really know what they're going to get out of the position on any given Saturday. They have already played two quarterbacks, and in the passing game, both have had as much trouble as success.
Trevor Knight lost the starting job after a poor start. Hurting his knee didn't help, but his arm cost him before that.
Blake Bell took his spot but is now causing consternation after a pair of poor passing performances, most notably his 12-of-26, no-touchdown, two-interception day against Texas.
So, with Kendal Thompson healthy and waiting in the wings, will this be a three-quarterback year for OU?
That seems doubtful.
Obviously, if Bell gets hurt, that might bring back Knight or usher in Thompson, but barring injury, Stoops is likely to stick with Bell.
Asked earlier this week about playing a different quarterback, Stoops seemed uninterested in that tact.
“We'll see,” he said, “but no, that's not something we're looking to do.”
How about a change of pace with Knight or Thompson if the offense gets bogged down?
Thing is, if there was ever a time to use Knight or Thompson, to change the pace, to bring in a quarterback who could really run, it was against Texas last Saturday. The Longhorns were locking down Bell but in previous games had been unable to stop speedster quarterbacks.
And Stoops and Co. didn't change.
Didn't even think about it, if you listen to offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.
Now, there's a chance that the Sooner coaches are sandbagging, and OU will go all platoon system on Kansas this Saturday. But that just hasn't been Stoops' style. He's stood firm with his quarterbacks even at times when fans have clamored for change.
Plenty of Sooner faithful were ready to pitch Nate Hybl to the curb after he replaced an injured Jason White early in the 2002 season. All that Hybl did was lead the Sooners to a 12-win season, a Big 12 title and the Rose Bowl, where he was the MVP.
The past couple seasons, Sooner fans again raised their voices for quarterback change. Plenty wanted Bell to play in place of Landry Jones.
Seems a little silly now, doesn't it?
Stoops may not have a philosophy, but he definitely likes to stay with a quarterback, and most of the time, that's for the best.
Frankly, sticking with Bell would be best this season.
Does he have flaws?
Stoops has admitted as much.
But changing quarterbacks now would send confusion and panic through the Sooner locker room, and as rotten as the passing game has been these last few weeks, OU has still lost just one game. Yes, it was a big game. Yes, it was a game that no one in Soonerland ever wants to lose. But still, it's just one loss.
This isn't the time to panic.
Stoops has never done that when it comes to his quarterbacks, and in this case, patience will be a virtue for the Sooners.
Bell has shown he can throw it well. Think back to the Notre Dame game, even though it seems like a million years ago. He just needs to get on the same page with receivers, get comfortable and get consistent.
That takes time.
Stoops will give it to him, just like he has with Sooner quarterbacks who've come before.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.