Oklahoma QB Knight returns to spotlight
Norman, Okla. (AP) — Trevor Knight will return to the big stage with a chance to show he's more than a one-hit wonder.
Oklahoma's sophomore quarterback, best known for his MVP performance in the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama, will face a Southeastern Conference team again Saturday when the fourth-ranked Sooners host Tennessee in a game on national TV. It will be his first real test since ripping Alabama for 348 yards and four touchdowns in January.
"It's a big one," he said. "We've had this circled for a while."
In two games this season, Knight has completed 59 percent of his passes for 552 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. He also has rushed for 52 yards on nine carries. He has built a special connection with Sterling Shepard, who has 12 catches for 226 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Tennessee has allowed averages of 13 points and 260 yards in wins over Utah State and Arkansas State. Volunteers coach Butch Jones said this challenge is much different, largely because of Knight.
"He's managing their offense," Jones said. "Dual threat, some designed quarterback runs, also some scrambles and making all the throws. He looks extremely comfortable, but also very, very, very confident. He can do it all."
Here are some things to watch in Saturday's game.
SEC - Big 12 rivalry: Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has made it clear the past few years that he believes the difference between the SEC and the Big 12 isn't as big as some make it seem. The Sooners feel they have a lot to prove for the Big 12 on Saturday.
"The Big 12 gets hounded regardless, whether it's OU, Iowa State, Kansas," Oklahomacornerback Zack Sanchez said. "We get hounded as a whole conference. To go out there and make a statement for our whole conference would be huge."
Oklahoma's ground game: Knight gets the headlines, but Oklahoma's running game is equally dangerous. Keith Ford has rushed for 138 yards, Alex Ross for 126 yards and Samaje Perine for 110. They keep the pile moving forward — the three of them have just one negative yard this season. The Sooners have rushed for 444 yards and 6.3 yards per carry in their first two games.
"It's just being able to have a fresh set of legs going at the defense all the time," Stoops said. "They all have power and size to them to go with it."
Worley's improvement: Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley threw 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year. So far this season, he has tossed five touchdown passes and one interception. He's completed 65 percent of his passes this season compared to 56 percent a year ago. It will be a challenge for Worley to be as efficient against an Oklahoma front seven that has said more than once that it believes it is the nation's best.
"Justin is not even close to being the same quarterback he was last year," Jones said. "He's poised, he's confident. Yeah, is he going to be challenged? Yes."
Vols' injured targets: Starting receiver Von Pearson is out this week because of a high ankle sprain, and starting tight end Ethan Wolf is questionable with a bruised knee. Pearson is second on the team with 98 yards receiving and Wolf is tied for second on the team with eight receptions. That leaves Worley possibly without two of his best targets against a team that in two games has allowed 212.5 yards passing per contest and intercepted four passes. The Volunteers still have athletic 6-foot-4 receiver Marquez North, who leads the team with 106 yards and two touchdowns. It will be interesting to see if he can be effective if both Pearson and Wolf are out.
Sanchez's shoulder: Oklahoma's star cornerback has four interceptions in his past five games, but he took a helmet to the shoulder early last Saturday against Tulsa and left the game for good. The sophomore said it was a mild shoulder sprain, and he will play with pain. It will be worth seeing how aggressive he is when it's time to make a tackle.
by Cliff Brunt, AP Sports Writer
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The Gayly – September 12, 2014 @ 10:25am