NORMAN — With Blake Bell on the shelf this week, Oklahoma will go back to its first choice as starting quarterback.
Trevor Knight, who started the first two games of the season before losing his job to Bell, will start for the Sooners on Saturday at Kansas State, according to sources close to the program.
The sources told The Oklahoman that Bell was suffering from the effects of a concussion suffered early in the second quarter of Saturday's win over Iowa State.
Wednesday night, Sooners coach Bob Stoops denied that Bell's status had been determined.
“All I know is he's visiting a doctor Thursday to determine it,” Stoops said of Bell.
Stoops also wouldn't confirm that Bell had suffered a concussion.
“I'm not determining that,” Stoops said. “It'll be determined Thursday evening, and I'll have something to say after the game, what the doctor determined.”
Sooners coaches and players say they expect Knight to be more of the player that played against Iowa State last week in relief — more poised and a better decision-maker than he was in wins over Louisiana-Monroe and West Virginia to start the season.
“I believe he's more confident throwing the football and more comfortable doing it,” Stoops said earlier this week. “I believe that is going to get better and better the more he does it.”
While Knight will be called on for injury reasons, another chance for Knight might've been coming anyway.
Bell has had an up-and-down season since replacing Knight late in the West Virginia game after Knight suffered a knee injury.
He played well against Tulsa, Notre Dame and TCU but had been plenty inconsistent at other times, including in the loss at Baylor and the first part of the Iowa State game before suffering the concussion.
After the loss to Baylor, where Knight came on several times to run a zone-read package, Knight said Bell had handled the situation well when Knight was named the starter and he'd been trying to do the same after Bell replaced him.
“It can go one of two ways,” Knight said. “You can get stronger from it, or you can push each other apart. As a teammate and as a member of a team trying to reach a common goal, you've got to be there for the guy. I've got to be happy for him and then when my number's called, just try to make the most of it.”
Knight will now get that chance.
Jalen Saunders, who has been OU's leading receiver regardless of which quarterback was in, said Knight hasn't necessarily been practicing better than he was early when he won the job but that he was better equipped to perform in game situations.
“I guess you could say that,” Saunders said. “He's getting his feet wet a little bit now. He knows what to expect and what is expected of him. I think he's been doing a great job when he's been in.”
While Knight has struggled marginally more than Bell with his arm, there is no doubt which quarterback has been the most effective runner.
Knight is averaging 8.4 yards per carry. Bell is averaging just 3.4 on more than twice as many carries.
Bell, who rushed for 24 touchdowns on 104 carries during his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons as a situational replacement for Landry Jones, hasn't scored on the ground in 75 carries this year.
Without Bell, and with Knight starting, redshirt sophomore Kendal Thompson, who played for the first time in the fourth quarter of the Iowa State game, will be elevated to backup.
Freshman Cody Thomas, who is redshirting but has traveled with the team this season, is expected to be the third-team quarterback if Knight and Thompson were to be injured.