Knight gets off the canvas

The first go-around wasn't what OU fans were hoping for with Trevor Knight. He's doing what he can to make sure the second chance goes better.

Oklahoma fans were left scratching their head. One uneven performance gets a pass, especially in a win. But a second one, including one with turnovers, and you start to hear the groans of the masses.

That's what redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight dealt with this season. After winning the spot from perceived favorite junior Blake Bell, OU fans didn't know what to expect. They expected greatness, though, because that's what they're accustomed to.

Following a knee injury to Knight against West Virginia in the second game, what they were really thinking was if coach Bob Stoops no longer had a firm grasp on the program.

Because what it looked like from the outside was simply a case of Knight being a great practice player and somebody who was shrinking when the moment got big.

Knight has to fight through the label. Slowly but surely every time he has stepped foot on the field has been a second chance at a first impression.

A concussion to Blake Bell three weeks ago opened the door for Knight who has busted it down this time around.

"You play this game as a competitor to go and show up on game day," Knight said. "You can go out and practice all you want. You can be a great practice player, but if you don't show up on game day, you're not going to be the guy. So to go out there and play well, that's what you work for every single day."

The work has paid off. In the second half of a 48-10 victory against Iowa State, OU fans got a glimpse of what this offense was supposed to look like with Knight at the helm.

A strong running attack that featured the zone-read option and letting Knight do what he does best. And when defenses start stacking the run, look for the downfield pass to keep them honest. It was on display again in a 41-31 win at Kansas State the next week.

Iowa State was a nice showing, but the Wildcat performance reintroduced Knight to people that might have written him off. It started on his first drive and escalated from that point.

"Just at the beginning of the game coming out and getting a completion," Knight said. "Whether it's that throw or any other throw, it's a confidence builder. I know I'm capable of making all the throws. It's just going out there and doing it week in and week out."

Knight ran for 82 yards and a touchdown, while completing 14 of 20 passes for 171 yards and another score to go with an interception that Stoops said wasn't Knight's fault.

KSU was his first test, but Bedlam at Oklahoma State will be something totally different for Knight. It's a big task, but it's an equally as big opportunity to showcase what he can do on another big stage.

It all starts with preparation, something co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel has harped on about Knight. No matter when things have been good or bad, Knight has been 100 percent ready to do the job. He hasn't been discouraged and has stayed on task.

Knight can't do it alone, and his teammates know that.

"Trevor is going to prepare as well as he can and play as well as he can, but when it comes to it, we need to protect him well," senior center Gabe Ikard said. "They've gone after some quarterback pretty well. We need to be able to, when he drops back and throws it, to let him stand back there and be comfortable."

Part of that also comes from the game plan created by Heupel and co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. As Knight gets more time on the field, the coaches are getting a better feel of what works for Knight.

And obviously what works for Knight might not be what worked so well for Bell. What has worked best is to simply spread the field and let Knight go to work. Leave it in his hands as to whether or not he's going to tuck it and run or if he's going to give it to one of OU's multitude of quality backs.

"Trevor is a threat," Norvell said. "He's a threat in the open field. He's got great outside speed, and that's a real threat for the defense. We kind of tried to put them in position where they had to cover the field. And that's the thing. I think we showed a lot of diversity."

Sometimes it was simple, give the ball to Brennan Clay and watch him work. Clay had 31 carries for 200 yards and two scores against Kansas State, all career highs. But Knight said he has that chemistry with any of the backs. Right now it's Clay getting the carries.

Knight didn't get down on himself when Bell took control of the team. He was there for Bell as Bell has been there for him during his recent run. And Knight's not about to get on his high horse now that things are going well. That's not who he is.

"Just stay humble," Knight said. "I feel like I'm a pretty even keel guy. You have to roll with the punches. Can't be too down when things are bad or get cocky when things are good. You have to be who you are."

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories