OU’s next quarterback won’t be chosen based on his running ability. That was Bob Stoops message during the Big 12 Conference’s spring teleconference call Tuesday morning.
“As far as running the ball, that won’t be the deciding factor to be honest with you,” said Stoops of evaluating his staritng quarterback. “We all know they can run but we’re not going to go overboard with it either.”
Stoops main concern appears to be in which quarterback will execute the Oklahoma passing game while limiting mistakes.
“In the end, the decision will be on who is throwing it the best, who is making the best decisions, who is truly avoiding the horrible play and the big mistake and is going to protect the football,” said Stoops. “Those are the big decisions.”
Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight all battled for a leg up on next fall's starting job through 15 spring practices. But it was a play by Bell, early in spring, which best illustrated what Stoops is looking for from his quarterbacks.
“It’s interesting in our first padded practice, we had not a scrimmage, but we’re moving the football and simulating a scrimmage,” Stoops recalled. “(Bell’s) running hard to his left and tries to turn back across his body and throws a floater backside across the field that had no chance. It was intercepted.
“He just shook his head and that was a classic example of it has to sting a little bit and you’ve got to learn. Hopefully he learned a valuable lesson even in that first practice that you can’t be careless with the football.
“Since then he hasn’t been. Since that day you haven’t seen a mistake like that. They’ve all made them at different times through the spring but that was something that was noticeable, just being smart with the football is such a big deal.”
You don’t get the impression Stoops is abandoning the running quarterback philosophy or having second thoughts.
It’s more that he is being open and honest about what will lead to the ultimate decision of naming a starter.
To be honest, Stoops was kind of stealing a page from Lon Kruger, OU's head basketball coach who is known for not beating around the bush, with his comments about the quarterback position.
These are your cards. They’re on the table.
To be Oklahoma’s next quarterback, you have to be the best passer in our system. You have to make the fewest mistakes. He knows they can all run with the football and make plays with their feet. But he’s not going to redesign the offense completely around a great running threat.
“We’ll add some wrinkles with their ability to run or even on passes with their ability to escape the pocket or sprint out and get outside the pocket,” said Stoops. “All our guys, when we recruit them, it’s all about how they throw and not how they run. We’re just fortunate that this group of guys, along with throwing the football, have the ability to run it too.
“We’ll see what that other dimension can do for us.”