New QB means new offensive scheme for OU

New QB means new offensive scheme for OU

Published Apr. 13, 2013 6:24 p.m. ET

NORMAN, Okla. — Saturday's spring game was a chance for the three Oklahoma quarterbacks to make a big first impression heading into the summer.

But it turned out the only the thing the Sooners established is there will be a clean break from last season's offense to the offense next season.

With no No. 1 quarterback in place and all sorts of questions heading into 2013, the only answer for sure is OU will have a mobile quarterback.

And if you didn't know that by now, the play calls, the coaches and the spring game made it completely obvious. It's gonna be a lot different next time around.

Like him or hate him, Landry Jones set about every Sooners passing record. But clearly that kind of style is not one Sooner coaches are married to. So on Saturday afternoon, three quarterbacks auditioned with a combination of keepers, bootlegs and roll-out plays. Basically, they showcased themselves as the anti-Jones, doing all sorts of things Jones never really did over the past three years.

Maybe it was because Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M first won the Heisman and then ran untouched through the Sooners defense in a Cotton Bowl undoing last January. Or maybe even the transfer of upright, drop-back quarterback Drew Allen to Syracuse this past week had something to do with it. Perhaps the Sooners just wanted a new identity.

Maybe all of those things.

But whether it's Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson or Trevor Knight who ultimately gets the call as the starting quarterback, Saturday was a statement that this fall won't look at all similar to last fall.

"I'm pleased with it," said coach Bob Stoops of seeing his mobile quarterbacks in a simulated game situation. "It's something that can help you and adds a dimension to your passing game and your running game. It will give us a different dimension that we didn't have."

Maybe that's why Bell, who has spent all of his time on the field as a fullback in the quarterback position, taking over the offense in short-yardage situations, passed on roll-outs three of the first plays.

"All I've done is run," Bell said of his time at OU. "But I want to show people I can sling it around, too. "I thought I did OK for me, I missed a couple of throws. Some was on me and some were on the receivers."

Conventional wisdom says Bell, a junior, will be the starter, due to his production running the team in a number of different spots the past two seasons. But he's not the best pure runner of the three quarterbacks. Bell went 14 of 23 passing for 213 yards and two touchdowns.

Thompson, the closest thing the Sooners have to a Manziel type, repeatedly scrambled his way around the field Saturday. The redshirt sophomore was the second quarterback to play and finished 8 of 15 passing for 86 yards and a touchdown. He ran for 35 yards.

"Coach (Josh) Heupel says not to hesitate to get out when you need to," Thompson said of his game.

And Knight, the redshirt freshman, went 11 of 15 passing for 151 yards as well as chipping in 36 yards rushing.

None throw as well as Jones. All run well better than Jones.

More than 29,000 fans showed up on a sunny Saturday to see which of the three quarterbacks looked the best, but as is the case in spring games, little can really be determined. The OU coaches certainly weren't going to give any indicator, and the statistics weren't that skewed that a declarative statement had to be made.

The only thing we know for sure is the offense is taking on a decidedly different look and approach. The coaches made sure the fans knew Bell could pass and made sure the fans could see Knight and Thompson run.

"It helps that all are similar," offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said, adding: "When someone has earned it, we'll name the guy."

No need. No need, because it doesn't really matter. The offense is going to be so drastically different that whoever ends up being in charge will be such a change, it will take some time to get used to things.

Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter @theandrewgilman