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August 3, 2013

More snaps for Bell, Knight as QB competition tightens

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Junior quarterback Blake Bell wasn't happy to hear sophomore quarterback Kendal Thompson fractured his right foot during a no-pads practice on the second day of fall training camp in Norman.

"You never want to see a guy, one of your teammates, go down like that," said Bell Saturday afternoon at OU's local Media Day, "but I think he'll bounce back, and he'll have a speedy recovery."

Bell, the senior member of the Sooner quarterback corps, was competing with Thompson and Trevor Knight to become the team's starter in Oklahoma's regular season opener against Louisiana-Monroe on Aug. 31.

SCOOPHD: QB BATTLE CONTINUES WITHOUT KENDAL THOMPSON

video by Eddie Radosevich

Now that race is effectively down to just two participants.

Still co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said there's no reason to count Knight out. The redshirt freshman has demonstrated to him the ability to play quarterback for OU.

"He's smart, he's competitive, he can make any throw you want him to make," Heupel said. "He's a good decision maker. He's grown tremendously in understanding what we're doing since spring ball.

"He is an extremely talented, competitive, smart football player that has great leadership skills as well."

There's little doubt Thompson demonstrated many if not all of the same traits, which is why the Sooners will miss his presence. Head coach Bob Stoops said the broken foot will sideline Thompson for several weeks, though that time could be less depending on the speed of Thompson's recovery.

"He is expected to return six weeks, possibly maybe a little less," Stoops said. "The way it all went they were incredibly pleased about it."

The injury was described as "one of those freak instances" by Heupel.

"There was nothing extraordinary about the play," Heupel said. "He planted, made a cut and I guess his foot gave out."

Thompson's loss could turn out to be Bell's, Knight's and true freshman Cody Thomas' gain. The three quarterbacks will receive more snaps in August as a byproduct of Thompson's injury.

Of the three, though, Thomas will no doubt benefit the most from the extra work. He arrived to campus late last month and has only practiced with the Sooners for half a week.

As the quarterback-of-the future, he'll need to make the most of every chance he has to take snaps under center, and Heupel is going to give him those chances in practice.

"We're just minus one guy, so that's a rep for Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Cody Thomas -- all of them," Heupel said. "They've all gotten a few extra reps. In that respect, it'll help those guys out a little bit."

Heupel and Stoops are eager for Thompson's return. Both said they were impressed by his ability to mature as not only a quarterback but as a leader and teammate at OU, and six weeks is a short amount of time, especially when four of those six weeks are during preseason.

It's the regular season that counts, and that's what Stoops is looking forward to.

"That puts Kendal back in the mix very early in the season, so the other guys between Blake Bell and Trevor Knight and Cody Thomas will continue to rep and battle it out here for the next couple of weeks," Stoops said. "But like I told Kendal we are very pleased and excited about what he's done over the past year, couple years he's been here.

"For sure the progress he's made and showed over the last year, he'll be able to catch up and be a factor for us after the first couple of games."

Still, at least two weeks before Thompson's return, Stoops and Heupel will have to name a starting quarterback.

Neither of them was willing to name a quarterback with a distinct advantage in the competition, and Heupel is in no rush to do so, citing past experience as a reason to take his time.

"When we chose Sam Bradford, (the team) knew seven days before kickoff basically, our opener," Heupel said. "That worked out pretty well."



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