He has quickly proven though that he doesn’t need a full season to be ready for the big stage.
In his first big game since the Sugar Bowl and arguably the biggest game he has played in outside of that victory against Alabama, Knight came out jittery and looked a little tentative early Saturday against Tennessee – even if he didn’t necessarily feel it.
When he finally settled in, Knight showed that he isn’t bothered by the stage.
“There definitely is a conscious part of it to keep yourself calm,” Knight said. “National television, the crowd is going crazy, the walk – it all gets hyped up and everything. It’s about staying even keel, especially in my position. There’s going to be highs and going to be lows. You’ve just got to get the same guy.”
Knight led the Sooners (3-0) to three scoring drives in the first quarter, although two were just field goals. Oklahoma has scored three times in the first quarter in each of the first three games.
A quick start like that can take the pressure off of a young quarterback in a major game, and although Knight appears to be developing faster than most young quarters, the lead made it easy on him.
Knight didn’t connect on any deep passes, but he made the right reads: The easy reads. He made good decisions on when to hand the ball off and when to keep it in the zone read run game, even scoring a touchdown on the ground to open the second half.
“I thought Trevor was really excellent on the night, moved the ball well, missed a few opportunities but still scored on quite a few opportunities to build the lead,” Stoops said.
Instead of trying to make the highlight plays in the passing game, Knight made the correct choices. He checked down to his running backs and found Keith Ford, who might miss the Sooners’ next game with a foot injury, for Ford’s first career receiving touchdown.
Sterling Shepard moved further up the career reception list as Knight found him open underneath coverage instead of over top of it.
Knight, who finished 20-for-33 for 308 yards and one touchdown, found Durron Neal on a quick slant and let his speedy receiver do the rest. The play converted a first down after a 43-yard reception and continued a second-half opening drive that stretched the Sooners’ lead to 20 points.
“We just have to continue to press on and be the same team for four quarters, 60 minutes,” Knight said.
Knight doesn’t do anything differently for big games when they show up on the schedule. There’s no secret formula or special pre-game meal.
It’s all about stress relief and easing the pressure.
Not getting too amped, to steal a phrase from Knight.
It’s also important to be ready. That’s something Knight has learned to do.
“It’s just preparation,” Oklahoma tight end Blake Bell said. “It’s being ready to play. He’s done a good job of that. He really does a good job of taking control out there in practice, doing the right thing and making sure everyone is getting better.”