Friday, August 23, 2013
Instead, Jones returned for his senior season which gave younger quarterbacks Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson a year to develop. Even with the emergence of the two younger quarterbacks, the job was Bell's to lose. Although he can never say it, I'm sure Stoops wanted Bell to seize control of the position. The choice to start a freshman over a junior who has three years invested in the program and two years as a solid contributor could not have been easy.
So how should Sooners fans react? I think there is a general feeling of disbelief mixed with excitement and a dash of letdown.
The disbelief is the fact Bell couldn't win the job as a redshirt junior. It seemed like he had paid his dues. After three years in the program and tons of meaningful snaps, how could anyone beat him out? And losing to a freshman? Implausible. No one saw Knight coming this season. Entering competition he was a distant third. Even if the competition was close, or if Bell made some mistakes, surely the coaches couldn't ignore the on field experience. Bell was on the Heisman watch list for Switzer's sake. Thompson's injury reaffirmed Bell's chances of starting. The competition was supposed to over. Someone forgot to tell Knight he wasn't supposed to win the job. That's the disbelief. Bell wasn't a sure thing after all.
The most intriguing question to me is whether Knight won the job or Bell lost it. That's what we'll find out a week from Saturday. A starting job at quarterback is not guaranteed under Stoops. Nate Hybl was named the starter before losing his job to Jason White mid-season. Paul Thompson started the first game of the 2005 season and only made it through a half before losing his job for the season. If Knight isn't moving the ball, you can be sure Bell will come in. Stoops said "both quarterbacks will be ready to play" after naming Knight the starter. I would expect both players to continue competing.
To bottom line things, no matter which of the three quarterbacks got the nod, the offense was going to be good. All three quarterbacks are mobile and talented passers. Beyond that, the offense is littered with playmakers. The offensive line is as deep as it's been since 2008, the receivers are experienced and talented and the running backs go six deep. The only problem for the offense is that there's only one ball and lots of playmakers to feed. Knight is stepping into a dream situation.
The defense is really what will define the 2013 Sooners. How will Mike Stoops overcome the lack of defensive line depth? What wrinkles has he added to slow down potent spread attacks? Will the linebackers play to their potential? Those are the real questions. I can't wait to find out the answers. Boomer Sooner!
As an aside: We won't be spared the headline puns that Bell lends itself to. Knight will create equal opportunity. The Bell Tolls for Bell. The Difference Was Knight and Day. Bell of the Ball. Knight Wins the Day. Ring the Bell. Good-Knight. Yeah, can't wait for those.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Until now I have approached this coming season realistically. The Sooners are breaking in a new starting quarterback and lost seven of eleven starters from a defense that finished last season humbled. That said, a realistic approach to the season was admitting the Sooners probably wouldn't win the national championship. I still expected them to win the conference, beat Texas and Oklahoma State, and play in the Fiesta Bowl. Realistic.
I know what you're thinking.
With their resume, how are the Sooners considered overrated?
No? That's not what you were thinking?
Then, you were probably thinking the bulk of the poll differential (-49 from preseason rankings) came in 2009 when they began the year ranked 3rd only to finish unranked after Sam Bradford's injury.
No again? Okay, I got it.
You're thinking, who the hell is pollspeak.com and why the hell would I care what they say?
That's exactly what I was thinking too when I read it. But apparently I'm not the only person that noticed. The moniker of overrated has been tossed OU's way after losing back to back national championship games in 2003 and 2004. It's funny that being one of the final two teams would earn you an overrated label, but that's what happened. Now this pollspeak article appeared and gave detractors all the ammunition they need to insult OU football, and they are taking advantage.
What a joke! OSU has exactly one series win in the last decade. ONE! In a DECADE. The all-time record is 83-17-7 in favor of the Sooners. One win per decade is all OSU fans need to be the most obnoxious in college football. So many years of living in big brother's shadow has left Poke fans with very low self esteem. The Mets have a better chance of taking New York from the Yankees than the Cowboys have of taking Oklahoma from the Sooners. OSU will always find a way to lose if they are expected to win, so I guess it's good that everyone outside of Norman expects the Cowboys to beat the Sooners this season.
Speaking of obnoxious, the pundits also predicted Texas would beat OU even though the Sooners have won the last three games by a combined 88 points (their overrated years, don't forget). Texas hasn't even been competitive the last two games allowing the Sooners to score 55 and 63 points. I understand that Texas has talent, but when have they not had talent under Mack Brown? The problem is you actually have to coach and develop that talent, neither of which are strong suits for Texas. As long as Brown is on the burnt orange sideline, I will never worry about a disparity in talent. Never. Outside of Stoops, Brown is my favorite head coach.
That's not all. Apparently, TCU is also going to beat OU, and if the Sooners aren't careful, Baylor will get them too. Not one analyst had anything positive to say about OU.
Maybe this is the kick in the ass the Sooners needed, coaches and players alike. They are no longer college football royalty and the SEC has a strangle hold on championship football. I used to hope the Sooners weren't reading their headlines. Now, I hope to hell they are. No one has OU in the championship hunt. No one has OU even being dangerous. Not even in a conference they have owned for 13 years. I can't wait to see how they respond.
The defense has even more to prove along with Mike Stoops entering his second year in his second tenure as defensive coordinator for the Sooners. The defense might not dominate against the spread attacks they will face in conference, but I expect great athletes with pride. I don't know who will step up, but someone will. I feel it now where I didn't before. No matter who takes the field August 31, they will have Sooners written across their chest, 80,000 fans wearing crimson and both Stoops patrolling the sidelines. I like our chances. It's time to unleash the beast.