“I know it’s popular for everyone to act like a certain guy has already got the job,” Stoops said. “That couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Trevor Knight and Baker Mayfield are in a tight battle, and Cody Thomas is right on their heels. He really made significant improvement in the spring.”
The key remains simple to say but tougher to execute. Stoops said OU had eight turnovers last season that resulted in touchdowns. Included in that were three pick-six interceptions from Knight.
As much as quarterback play is about making some big plays, it’s also a huge point of emphasis about not having those backbreaking plays that stall drives and end possessions.
A reason for concern for OU has been the status of Mayfield’s shoulder. He has suffered from soreness the last few weeks and has not participated in any 7-on-7 drills the last couple of weeks. Stoops said Mayfield will be fine in the long run.
“Baker’s shoulder is healing just fine, just a little bit overworked,” Stoops said. “He’s back throwing the football now. Of course we’re monitoring how much that is, but he’ll be fine once we into two-a-days, not expected to have any limitations.”
For Knight, it’s the second time in three seasons being a part of a battle like this. In 2013, he was the young pup looking to earn the job when most thought it would be time for Blake Bell to emerge as the quarterback.
With Bell and Knight, though, the differences were very noticeable. They weren’t the same breed of quarterback, not the same breed of player.
Knight and Mayfield, on the surface, are very similar in who they are as players. Stoops said with this duo, the differences are a lot more subtle.
“Baker may not be straight out as fast as Trevor, but he’s elusive,” Stoops said. “He’s good with moving his hips and getting away from trouble. Both have to continue to improve and be sharp at going through their read progressions and where they want to go with the football.”
The edge has always seemed to be with Mayfield because of his ties to the Air Raid offense that Lincoln Riley is bringing back to Norman this season.
Perhaps that meant something in the winter and the spring. But Stoops said Knight and Thomas are both picking up the offense and learning.
“Baker may have a little more experience, having played in the offense a year longer,” Stoops said. “But, again, Trevor’s picked it up, as Cody has, really pretty well. I’m really excited at their progress in the spring.”
OU officially begins camp Aug. 8.