It wasn't the stat line freshman Trevor Knight expected in his debut as Oklahoma's starting quarterback: 103 yards rushing but only 86 passing, albeit with three touchdown throws.
True, the Sooners did cruise to a 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. But there's little debate Knight will need to improve in the passing department this Saturday, when No. 16 Oklahoma (1-0) will host West Virginia (1-0) in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.
After the game, Knight said he felt “like I did enough to get us the win’” but added that “I know I can improve on a lot of stuff — decision making, just running the ball, anything. I know we can go up from here, which is exciting for our team.”
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops generally agreed with Knight's self-assessment.
“I thought Trevor, being in his first start and his reads and handling the offense and communicating and running the football, was really good and strong,”’ Stoops said Monday. “There were a lot of passes I know he can make that we didn't complete that we've got to work on.”
Knight struggled in the first half against Louisiana-Monroe, particularly on short swing passes, which he often threw too high, too low or too far from the reach of an intended receiver. Three of his throws were batted down at the line and another was nearly intercepted in the end zone. He went 7-of-21 passing in the first half for 42 yards.
He settled down after halftime and finished the game 11-for-28 passing, although his yardage total was more like what Oklahoma quarterbacks produced in the program's wishbone era in the 1970s and 1980s than in recent years with Jason White, Sam Bradford and Landry Jones rolling up gaudy numbers.
Same goes for Knight's rushing total, as he became the first Oklahoma quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game since White had 117 yards rushing against Kansas on Oct. 13, 2001.
Such is life running the read option, Stoops said.
“At the end of the day, it just a little bit different style,”’ Stoops said. “‘I like what we're doing and the direction we're going. We've just got to keep building on it. That's where we're at.”
Knight said he didn't want to get too worked up about his passing stats.
“You take what they can give you,”’ he said. “We didn't light it up like we have here in the past, but we did what we needed to do to win. Anytime you win, that's all that matters.”
Against Louisiana-Monroe, Stoops said Knight did a good job of making reads and deciding when to pull the ball down and run. Stoops also cited Knight's improved passing in the second half, although he said the low yardage total wasn't entirely Knight's fault.
“Later in the game he threw some good balls, the touchdowns to Trey (Metoyer) and Jalen (Saunders),” Stoops said. “He threw a couple other deep balls that I feel we've got to be able to come up with. One, we come down with it, and the defender rolls and takes it away from us. That's a play that the ball's where it needs to be. We've got to make a competitive catch. Those throws were good.”
Knight did struggle some on “some of the screens and some of the intermediate throws,” Stoops said, but “he'll improve on that, I believe. I'm sure there's a good bit of jitters, going out there the first time, and I believe he'll calm down and throw the ball like he's capable.”
Tailback Brennan Clay noticed Knight became more settled in as the game progressed.
“Trevor, of course being his first game, played exceptionally well,” Clay said. “Especially the second half. He came out on fire and started hitting some shots, finally.”
Knight said this week would be spent watching film and working on timing with his receivers so the Sooners can “connect on those deep balls, because we've got to hit our shots.”
He said he's excited to be playing again after redshirting during the 2012 season.
“The last game I played in when I got hit was in high school,” Knight said. “It's been a long time. To get out there and finally get hit around a little bit felt good.”