It will be Knight, though, who needs to shine the brightest.
“We want to go play really well,” he said Monday. “So, if that’s pressure you can call it that, but we’re just excited to get back out on the field and get back to the way we want to play.”
After a 14-for-36 showing against TCU with as many touchdowns thrown to the Horned Frogs as his own team, Knight has to be better if Oklahoma hopes to stave off back-to-back losses.
A better showing for Knight doesn’t come just on the strength of his arm. His legs will be of vital importance as well.
For the past two years, a running quarterback has been the biggest issue for Texas. BYU scored 40 points earlier this season behind three rushing touchdowns by quarterback Taysom Hill, who ran for three scores and 259 yards last year in a victory against Texas.
Oklahoma State and Ole Miss also both had a lot of success on the ground last season. Clint Chelf ran for a team-high 95 yards and a score in the Cowboys’ victory, and Rebel’s quarterback Bo Wallace was second on the team in attempts and scored on the ground.
Oklahoma (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) is just starting to let Knight loose.
“We had some quarterback draw week-to-week and schematically what we think gives us a chance to be successful as a whole and what gives us a chance week-to-week,” Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “We ran some zone read, some of it with the tight end attached and some of it with the tight end not attached through the course of the season and we didn’t major in it early in the season trying to limit some of his hits.”
It wasn’t hits that slowed Knight down last week against TCU, when he neared a career-high with 13 carries and 61 yards. Just like Blake Bell against Notre Dame, Knight was slowed by cramps more than the Horned Frogs defense. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said they did things this week to help combat that situation.
Knight was able to gash the TCU defense, which left him unaccounted for in the run game. He had so much success – gaining 10 or 15 yards on every quarterback draw – Stoops felt good about calling another QB run late in the fourth quarter as the Sooners were trying to drive for the winning touchdown.
“I thought it was a great call,” he said, citing that the execution up front was lacking. “In fact, I was all for it. Every other time we ran it on the day, what’d we get? Fifteen, 20 yards and a first down. We needed a first down.”
Before last Saturday, the read part of zone read had been all but taken out of the playbook. Oklahoma wanted to keep Knight healthy.
“Everybody’s playing us to give the give read,” Knight said.
When the defensive end crashes though, Knight will have to be ready. Along with a need for better passing accuracy, Knight will be called upon to use his legs – as much as his arm.