The play of the Oklahoma Sooners’ quarterbacks over the past two seasons has fallen tremendously short of the always sky-high expectations of staff and fans alike.
It started with the “Belldozer”, Blake Bell. He was a five-star recruit out of Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita, Kansas. The now 6’6”, 259 lb tight end played quarterback for the majority of the 2013 season. He completed 140 of 233 attempts for 1,648 yards and 12 touchdowns. His play was mediocre enough to where he was benched for current starter Trevor Knight. Knight took over and appeared to be the answer to all of the questions about the Sooners offense when he led OU to a stunning 45-31 victory over Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. The end of the season lit a fire under the Sooners and sparked speculation of a possible championship the following season.
Unfortunately, the hype did not live up to reality, and the Sooners are now asking the same questions they were asking at this point in the season last year. Statistically, Knight has played much better than Bell so far this season, throwing for 549 more yards and two more touchdowns than Bell did in his starts last seasons. However, out of OU’s 5 losses over the past two seasons, Bell has two, while Knight has three. This can be attributed to Knight’s nine interceptions this season compared to Bell’s five all last year. Losing is not in Oklahoma’s football culture, and Knight’s mediocre play has been at the head of all of it.
So now, bring in redshirt freshman Cody Thomas. He took over for an injured Knight and crawled to the end of a blowout loss against Baylor. Then, Thomas limped to victory against the struggling Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock this past weekend. It’s not fair to judge Thomas on the Baylor game because of the circumstances, but I will look at the Texas Tech game. Thomas completed 10 passes on 20 attempts for 133 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. These are bad statistics for any quarterback in any game, but when you remember that the opponent was Texas Tech, it looks even worse. Texas Tech ranks ninth out of the ten teams in the Big 12 in total defense. They are giving up 535.3 yards per game on average, and 6.8 yards per play, the worst mark in the conference. The only reason the Sooners escaped Lubbock with a win was thanks to their 384 rushing yards. Their Big 12-leading rushing attack is the team’s only offensive positive this season.
Oklahoma must look for different options at the quarterback position next season. It’s that simple. Their most imminent option for success is Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield, who started for the Red Raiders’ first five games last season going 5-0 before missing four games due to injury. He went 218 of 340 for 2,315 yards and 12 touchdowns in 8 career starts for Texas Tech. Combine him with the possibility of Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham and current Oklahoma receiving leader, junior Sterling Shepard, and the Sooners could have one of the best offenses in college football next season.
This season is already out of reach for the Sooners, so looking to the future should be the only thing on the coaching staff’s minds. Ultimately, Bob Stoops must continue a search that’s been underway for nearly five years – find the next Sam Bradford.