OU passing attack needs an overhaul

Sooners relying on deep pass, need intermediate completions

Looking to take the lead early in the fourth quarter last Saturday against TCU, Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight took the snap, looked to his right and saw an open receiver on a quick pass.

Believing he was open, he let it go – only to have TCU linebacker Paul Dawson step in front of the pass and go the other way for what turned out to be the game-winning score. There rests the problem with Oklahoma’s passing game, and it doesn’t begin and end with Knight. The Sooners lack an intermediate passing game. It’s something they desperately need.

“Yes, we need to be better in the intermediate passing game,” Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said.

Heupel went on to add that TCU gave them the deep pass, but the Sooners never established an intermediate passing game, which allowed Dawson to follow Knight’s eyes quickly and take away and short pass. He didn’t have to worry about something five to ten yards down the field because Oklahoma wasn’t going to throw it.

Having an intermediate passing game keeps linebackers and safeties at bay, opening up everything else.

The big question is how.

Tight end Blake Bell could be the answer, but Heupel abruptly moved past a question regarding trying to using Bell earlier this week.

When Ryan Broyles was at Oklahoma, the Sooners loved bubble screens. What about those?

“That’s easy completions that hopefully turn into big yards,” Knight said. “If we block it up right on the outside it can turn into huge plays. We didn’t throw as many this week, but that’s still definitely a wrinkle in our offense.”

But coaches said TCU was taking those away as well, or Oklahoma just didn’t want to go to them.

“I felt like I wanted to take some shots down the football field and those worked early, and they didn’t work as well later in the ball game,” Heupel said. “We probably could have used a few more intermediate passes to get them going.”

For any of this work, Knight as to play better than he did against TCU.

“At times, he's got to be a little more patient to wait for something to break open and then at times it's just the accuracy of the throws so it's all of that,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.

He needs help though. He needs help from his play-calling, and he needs help from his secondary receivers.

Knight is never going to have the accuracy numbers of Heupel or Sam Bradford or even Landry Jones. That’s not the way this offense is set up.

But the Sooners have to find an answer with what they have.

Bell, K.J. Young and Durron Neal, who would be great in the bubble screen game, must become primary options on passing plays designed to be completed at seven or eight yards.

“I think we do have to make sure we’re spreading it around more,” Stoops said. “. . . You can’t deny the effect Sterling has had. That hasn’t been a problem. We still can get more people involved though.”

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