Knight bringing different skill set to OU

Sam Bradford and Landry Jones brought a lot of wins and championships to OU, but they didn't bring that dual-threat capability of Trevor Knight. It's clear where OU's offensive direction is going now.

It's three days later, and everybody seems to be settled into the fact Oklahoma is going to roll the dice with redshirt freshman Trevor Knight as the starting quarterback Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.

Hey, if it can produce a Heisman Trophy winner like Johnny Manziel last year, why not give a redshirt freshman an opportunity?

Nobody is expecting Knight to be the next Johnny Football and some will consider that a good thing. But with OU's supporting cast this season, he also won't have to be.

Knight started to wow OU defenders in December when, coincidentally enough, he was portraying Manziel for the scout team to help OU get ready for the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M.

Those turned heads were shocked in December. By August, though, it had become commonplace.

"He can break down defenses pretty good," cornerback Cortez Johnson said. "He knows what kind of defense you are in just by looking at you. He's a very smart quarterback. He has great accuracy and can run the ball."

The dual-threat capabilities have OU fans salivating as the offense gears away from the pure pocket-passer mold of Sam Bradford and Landry Jones.

Yes, it is official. The dual-threat quarterback era has arrived in Norman, Okla. The writing has been on the wall with the way offensive coordinator Josh Heupel has recruited the position lately.

In 2011, it was dual-threat prospect Kendal Thompson. In 2012, Heupel wouldn't give up in trying to get Knight to flip his commitment from A&M to OU. We know how well that worked.

Last year it was Cody Thomas. Maybe not as a big of a dual-threat as Thompson and Knight, Thomas is an accomplished baseball player.

The trend has continued with this recruiting class and Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe four-star Scout 300 quarterback commit Justice Hansen. Deceptively quick, Hansen continues to disprove anybody who believes he's just a pocket-passer. It was on display Thursday during a scrimmage when Hansen's best play of the night was a 65-yard touchdown run.

Though it appeared junior Blake Bell was the leader in the clubhouse to earn the starting position, OU coach Bob Stoops and Heupel never discounted Knight.

"He's smarter. He's competitive. He can make any throw you want him to make," Heupel said. "He's a good decision maker, and he has grown tremendously in understanding what we're doing."

And now he is giving the offensive linemen and running backs blocking for him something else to think about. The play is never over with Knight back there.

"He can make us look good," sophomore center Ty Darlington said. "When the protection breaks down or something like that, he can make a play."

Senior center Gabe Ikard couldn't agree more.

"It's definitely different," Ikard said. "Those guys are going to make a lot of plays with their feet. Obviously we want to keep guys away from our quarterbacks. Every now and then they got to make a play with their feet. It's kind of convenient to have those guys."

Knight is in a spot to succeed. The Sooners have three senior running backs who know the offense and have plenty of big-game experience. The offensive line, ravaged by injuries last year, is arguably the deepest and best unit heading into the season.

And there are almost too many wide receivers to mention being in contention for playing time. But in the end, Knight will have to do his part, too, to keep the dual-threat theme going strong. Stoops is not worried about that.

"Definitely, and that's not uncommon for a young guy," said Stoops about Knight developing over the summer. Now that he's so many more practices into it, he's just more settled in and more sure of himself and he's definitely playing that.

"When you're really young, I think that second year is when you make the biggest jump. That's why you have to keep giving them opportunities and snaps."

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