OU Quarterback Competition Is Bell's To Lose, But Still Open

Sunday, April 14th 2013, 7:37 pm
By: News 9

Coming into the Oklahoma spring game on Saturday, there was no question the main thing to watch was the first quarterback battle the Sooners have had since 2007.

It was a welcome change, bringing a bit of excitement to what normally amounts to nothing more than a glorified scrimmage.

The three competitors—Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight—didn't disappoint, combining to throw for 450 yards and four touchdowns and running for 71 yards.

For the three players looking to fill the shoes of Landry Jones, it was a measuring stick in what Bell described as a "fun" competition.

"All three of us are around each other, shoot, it seems like 24 hours a day," Bell said. "We have fun with it. We know we're competing; you're going to compete anywhere you go against anyone at any school in the country. We've just got three guys competing and having fun with it and we're just going to work hard each and every day; that's all we can do."

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All three quarterbacks have similar abilities, but it's the subtleties that give this competition a bit of flavor. Bell's experience certainly gives him a boost in the competition, but Thompson feels he brings plenty to the table as well.

"I think my greatest strength would be my mental aspect of the game," Thompson said. "I really like to pick things apart and see things of that nature. The thing I need to work on is the command of everything and the overall reads; stuff Coach Heupel is on us all the time about. I just need to continue to get better at that."

OU coach Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel were both pleased with how the three performed, understanding they all still have work to do to claim the starting job.

"When somebody has earned it, that's when we'll name a guy," Heupel said repeatedly after Saturday's game.

Heupel has consistently preached this spring the quarterback that makes the fewest mistakes will most likely be the one to earn the starting position. Saturday afternoon, the quarterbacks avoided the big mistakes—a fumble by Knight was the only turnover committed by any of the three all afternoon. There were a couple passes that could have been picked off, but on this day, they got away with it.

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Bell said Heupel's sermons have not fallen upon deaf ears during spring practice.

"As a quarterback, if you just limit your turnovers and bad plays, you're giving yourself a chance to win," Bell said. "I think all three of us quarterbacks made that an emphasis of not turning the ball over, trying to get it to the other playmakers. Another thing was running out of the pocket, not fumbling."

Knight clearly struggled the most Saturday, and appears to have too much to learn to be able to grab the starter's role this season. That assessment doesn't mean he's going to quit competing.

"Obviously you're going to be a bit nervous," Knight said about his spring game experience. "I think I made some big strides throughout the spring just getting more comfortable with the guys and with the offense. It's starting to be second nature. As long as I study my playbook and get reps with those guys, it'll come to me."

The quarterback battle will not be decided anytime soon, even though Saturday made it pretty clear Bell is the best option for the Sooners. However, Thompson and Knight both believe they have a shot to win the starter's role, so the summer will be a key time of growth for all three quarterbacks.

There isn't a wrong choice in this quarterback competition. One quarterback may simply be better than the other, but none of the quarterbacks are bad. No matter how the competition turns out, the OU offense is going to be in good hands.