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Archive for Saturday, August 3, 2013

Even with unproven QB, Oklahoma offense solid

Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard responds to questions during a Cotton Bowl football press conference Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, in Irving, Texas.

Oklahoma's Gabe Ikard responds to questions during a Cotton Bowl football press conference Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, in Irving, Texas.

August 3, 2013

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Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard pulled out his phone to check his list, then told a reporter at Big 12 media days he was the 42nd person that day to ask him who the Sooners’ starting quarterback would be this season.

So who, exactly, will it be?

“All three guys have been working very hard and competing against each other and have been pushing each other through the offseason and spring ball,” Ikard said in a robotic tone before busting out in a laugh. “No, all three guys are great. They’ve got a lot of skill when it comes to running the ball and throwing the ball.”

It was originally thought that Wichita native Blake Bell — he’s been featured as a goal-line quarterback the last two seasons — would step in as the starter, but on Aug. 23, OU coach Bob Stoops surprisingly announced that the first-game starter would be freshman Trevor Knight.

No matter who the quarterback is, Ikard said OU’s offense should thrive with an offensive line that returns seven players with starting experience.

“It needs to be the unit that leads this football team,” Ikard said.

An All-Big 12 first-team selection a year ago, Ikard said he’d be “very disappointed” if the Sooners didn’t get back above 40 points per game. OU was at 38.2 ppg a season ago.

“I don’t care who we’ve got back there (under center),” Ikard said. “If they’ve got time, they’re going to make good decisions.”

The Sooners also have three senior running backs and an experienced receiving corps to help take the pressure off their QB.

Defensively, OU returns just four starters, though one of those is talented cornerback Aaron Colvin. The senior was an all-Big 12 first-team selection a year ago when he tied for sixth in the league with four interceptions.

The Sooners struggled most with opposing running backs, ranking ninth in the Big 12 in rush yards allowed per game (193).

“Definitely, in some of our schemes a year ago, we were more coverage conscious, and it hurt us in the run game,” Stoops said. “In the end, we’ll have to make some adjustments there.”

Expectations are still high. OU was picked second in the preseason Big 12 poll behind Oklahoma State.

“We were 10 wins last year, co‑champs in the Big 12, and lost to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. No, we’re not pleased about that, but there’s improvement to be made,” Stoops said. “Our guys are excited about making that improvement, and hopefully, we’ll be able to do it.”

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