Real quick before we get going... Doug Rigg walked into the airport and flew back with his team to Morgantown, West Virginia last night. Rigg laid motionless on the field after taking a scary shot in the fourth quarter and was taken off the field on a backboard and immediately transported to the hospital. As we reported in the post game it was more of a precautionary move and Rigg flew back with the team last night... Now onto some observations:
1 -- Is there a quarterback controversy? Of course there is... but Bob Stoops has said all along that he expected Blake Bell to keep competing for the starting job. When Trevor Knight struggled moving the team last night against West Virginia, Bell made the most of his opportunity. Now don't get too carried away, it's not like Bell came in and engineered a 15 play 80 yard scroing drive with a mixture of pass and run. Blake did exactly what the Sooners needed at that point in the game. He provided an offensive spark that was so desperately missing. Coach Merv said in the post game show that if he were the coach he would make the change. I predicted in the post game show that I didn't think that a change would be made. But there is one thing that is absolutely undeniable, all three of these quarterbacks support each other. Yes, I said three... lets not forget Kendall Thompson has started throwing and will play a role once he becomes healthy enough to participate in full practices. Also take a moment to identify the way in which a redshirt freshman handled getting replaced in the fourth quarter of just his second game. Trevor Knight did not pout nor did he openly or publicly feel sorry for himself. He went right up to the offensive line and congratulated them after the scoring drive and was right in the middle of the offensive huddle. A very mature way to handle a very difficult situation that had to be much tougher on Knight when he heard the way the crowd roared when Bell took the field. And lets not forget to go ahead and cancel the obituary for the BellDozer, as the great John Hoover pointed out when the game had wrapped up... "The BellDozer Lives". Kudos to Bell for making the most of his shot. Again he was not really asked to do much, but he provided an energy that had been lacking throughout the game offensively. The question on the mind of Josh Heupel, Jay Norvell, and Bob Stoops... Are they willing to wait on a redshirt freshman and live through the inevitable mistakes that will occur. Is the ability of Knight so sky high and his ceiling so unlimited that a 4 turnover performance is just a bump in the road for what could be a special first year starter. OR... is it time to hand the reigns to Bell who seems to have a little bit more of an edge to him, is more accomplished even in limited action throwing the football, and may be a better game manager. The defense has been so good in the first 8 quarters it has allowed Knight to learn on the job quite a bit without costing the Sooners too terribly much on the field. But last nights turnovers, specifically the interceptions and fumble on a poor read by Knight, might have been enough for Coach Stoops to say its time to go with the veteran.
2 -- Get Used To It!! This is not going to be the OU offense that you were used to under Landry Jones the last three seasons. This running game is solid and as we witnessed against West Virginia and Louisiana Monroe, is definitely capable of carrying the Sooners to a win. Will teams force the Sooners to throw the football at some point? Yes they will and that could come as soon as this Saturday against Brent Guys University of Tulsa defense. Most of last season fans and observers seemed disappointed in an offense that relied too much on the pass and would often put the defense in a tough spot with quick scores or quick three an outs. This is a much more physical brand of football from Oklahoma, and it's not going to change. Against a team like Tulsa this Saturday morning the Sooners may throw the football a bit more to build the confidence of either Bell or Knight, but it will be rare in 2013 when you see this team attack by throwing the football more than passing the ball. It might not always be pretty and it might not always make the highlight shows. But it will give the defense more of a rest and will allow the deepest position on the team, running back, will be showcased.
3 -- Defense Continues to Shine. Despite giving up 75 yard touchdown run on the first drive of the game for West Virginia, the Sooner defense again buckled down and stole the show on Saturday Night. Despite losing Aaron Colvin early in the third quarter to what appeared to be a concussion, the Sooner defense buckled down and shut down the Mountaineers time after time. Gabe Lynn has truly developed into a leader for this defense and has embraced his role as a play maker. Lynn made a big interception as the Sooners forced 4 turnovers to help counter the 4 turnovers that stalled the Sooner offense. Eric Striker is making such a big impact early in the season that West Virginia was sliding its protection to account for the attacking linebacker. Corey Nelson has continued to show marked improvement from last year and the defense just looks faster. Perhaps the biggest difference maker has been the defensive tackle position. Jordan Phillips has been a major factor on just about every snap he has been a part of in 2013.
4 -- Trey Freaking Millard. I know that the continual charge is to get Millard more touches and at some point it will happen. But Millard had an amazing impact on the game and only touched the ball once. I know fans want to see him more involved, but he absolutely is more involved. Millard is the best special teams player on the roster and pro scouts are taking notice. On punt and kick returns the Big Cat is routinely the first player in position to make a play. On offense he has developed into a bruising blocker. The time will come when the game plan calls for Millard to be more involved in the game plan both rushing and receiving the football. But so far in the early part of the 2013 season, Millard is one of the biggest difference makers in the Sooner run game. His job blocking can NOT and should not go unnoticed.
5 -- Game Ball to the Fans. Brennan Clay made sure to give kudos to the fans during his post game interview on the Sooner Radio Network and OU fans deserved it. In fact, Clay said it was even hard sometimes when OU was on offense to hear the play change because the fans were buzzing. I understand that with this offense there can be lulls and four turnovers can add to the frustration in the seats. But when they were called upon to do so, the Sooner Nation was loud and made a difference. I think that we have this striping thing down too... the stadium looked incredible and despite the heat and humidity the atmosphere was electric.