For as long as the Sooner nation waited to hear which quarterback would lead their team out, it seemed sadistically appropriate they would be made to wait longer for Trevor Knight to really get into Oklahoma’s first game against University of Louisiana at Monroe, which they won 34-0.
But, when he finally did, he ran and passed his way right into Sooner hearts. Knight rushed for 103 yards and completed 11 of 28 passes for three touchdowns in a great start to the redshirted freshman’s college career. For the first few possessions, it didn’t appear the game would be one Knight wanted to write home about.
“I’m sure he’ll settle down and start making some of his throws,” head coach Bob Stoops said. “We still feel we’ll be more polished as we go along.”
Despite breaking of a 24 yards on his first run to take the Sooners to midfield, his passes were missing the mark. Knight went 3-10 in the first quarter, and the most crucial of miscues came when Saunders was free about 25 yards downfield but the throw was just too far and on the wrong shoulder of the receiver.
Oklahoma’s defense, meanwhile, held firm when it had to. Despite letting up 57 yards on 17 plays for ULM, they always managed to get the tackle when it counted and kept Koltan Browning from making a big impact. The Warhawks did manage to get down to the Sooner 23 yard line – the closes they ever got to the end zone – in their second drive in the first quarter only to be undone by an offensive pass interference call. They would later have to punt.
Finally, the new look, fast-paced Sooner offense began producing attractive football. Knight’s quick five yard run kept the drive going from midfield to start the second quarter, and Oklahoma proceeded to run the ball down the Warhawks’ throats. Knight silenced some doubters by showing his versatility. A 12-yard pass to Jalen Saunders in the left corner of the end zone broke the deadlock.
But later it was back to some of the same problems. Inside the 30 yard line, Lacoltan Bester beat his man with speed down the left but the receiver could only watch as Knight’s pass was, again, a few yards too long and out of the end zone. Oklahoma had to settle for a 41-yard field goal from Michael Hunnicut while they’re young starter continued to try and make his passes count.
Most of the good running was done around midfield, but the offense could not get the Sooners into the end zone. Another Knight pass was just too far in the right corner on third down, and another Hunnicut field goal made the score 13-0 going into halftime.
The second half couldn’t have begun in a worse way for ULM. Quarterback Kolton Browning’s pass was tipped near midfield and fell in the hands of OU’s Julian Wilson to set up the short field from the Warhawks 47 yard line. After a few big runs by Knight to keep the momentum going, Brennan Clay ran 8 yards into the corner for his eighth collegiate touchdown. With more than 10 minutes left in the third quarter, it was 20-0 Sooners.
ULM did nothing to help themselves the next time out. After spreading five receivers wide on 3rd and 7, Browning is swarmed when he attempts to run. The ensuing punt was a fake at what appeared to be the worst possible time and failed miserably, setting OU up on the 18 yard line. It took one quick pass out to Saunders on the right for an 18 yard touchdown that quickly had the Sooners up 27-0.
Saunders was the main man again, taking a ULM punt 45 yards all the way down to the ULM 20. That led to Trey Metoyer catching his first touchdown of the night on a 13 yard pass from Knight to put OU up 34-0 and give Knight his third passing touchdown of the evening. By the time Bell came in with about 10 minutes to go, his 11-28 on passing showed a vast improvement from his opening drives.
“I felt good,” Knight said, shaking off suggestions he might have been nervous. “I missed a few things here and there, but we can only go up from here.”