Oklahoma spring game features QB competition Print
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Friday, 12 April 2013 10:39
NCAAF Headline News

 NORMAN, Okla. (AP) - With three young quarterbacks competing to replace four-year starter Landry Jones, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops sees something in just about every practice and scrimmage this spring that he could do without.
It's the big mistake.
Stoops has seen plenty of good performances out of junior Blake Bell, sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, too. But what he wants to see go away are the costly errors.
``They're doing a pretty good job, but it seems like every day or scrimmage or team session, there will be one or two plays that, `You better reevaluate that one.' And it's all of them,'' Stoops said. ``I'm not sitting here saying they're doing a bad job. They're doing a really good job. But some of those plays can be game-changers. You can't make them. You can't gamble with the ball.''
The Sooners will play their spring game Saturday on Owen Field, providing perhaps the only public glimpse into the quarterback competition since all practice sessions are closed. Traditionally, Stoops has not named his starting quarterback during spring practice, preferring instead to carry the competition over into two-a-days and training camp.
He has indicated that would be the case again this time.
At this point, he's looking for consistency out of the candidates. Bell is the only one with playing experience, operating the Sooners' short-yardage ``Belldozer'' package where he was primarily a runner. He has also played late in blowouts, throwing just 20 passes in 19 career appearances. Bell also has 24 rushing touchdowns.
``What all of them have to learn to do is not have the really bad play that changes a game. That's something I think that as they're going through this, being competitive with one another, but you can't just gamble and try to make the big play and have the bad one,'' Stoops said. ``There's enough good players around them that we'll be successful moving the football, if you trust them and don't gamble with the football.''
Stoops hasn't had a wide-open quarterback derby since Sam Bradford emerged as the starter in 2007, going on to win the Heisman Trophy in 2008 as Oklahoma played for the national championship. Landry Jones was forced into duty after Bradford was injured in the first game of the 2009 season and kept the job after Bradford was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.
Stoops said spring hasn't seemed much different because usually there wasn't much reason to give the entrenched starters a bunch of snaps. He's always seen it as a time to evaluate and develop younger, unproven players.
``We're really pleased with the way these guys are working and progressing,'' Stoops said. ``I don't see them doing anything different than what I've seen from about any quarterback who just hasn't been starting for a year or two.''
The Sooners don't hit their quarterbacks in practice, so part of the process is teaching how plays that seemed positive in a controlled atmosphere might have been different in game situations.
``They know they're not being tackled, so they'll hold on to the ball a little longer and let something go at the end. Oh, and they get a touchdown that really they'd have got hit in the mouth, the ball would have went straight up in the air, and (the defense) would have probably run it back,'' Stoops said.
``Those are things you're pointing out, that coach (Josh) Heupel's pointing out on tape. As much as anything, you have to keep snapping the ball, get them as many reps and get them in those types of situations as much as you can.''
Oklahoma's coaches have hinted they'd be interested in adding a running dimension at the quarterback position that hasn't been present with Bradford and Jones operating almost exclusively as pocket passers.
But Stoops doesn't intend to give future opponents any clues on what that might entail, and Saturday's open scrimmage probably won't be any different.
``There's different wrinkles all the time,'' Stoops said. ``But I'd have open practices if I wanted everyone to be talking about what we're doing.''
 

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