On Saturday, Aug. 31, the Oklahoma Sooners (OU) football team open their 2013-14 season at home against Sun Belt opponent, the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (ULM). They’ll do so with their new quarterback, redshirt freshman Trevor Knight. On Aug. 22, coach Bob Stoops announced the move, as Knight beat out fan-favorite, junior Blake Bell aka “The Belldozer.”
Knight becomes the first “new” quarterback since 2009, when Landry Jones took over for Sam Bradford.
Last season, OU finished 10-3 and 8-1 in the Big 12 Conference, earning them an eighth Big 12 title. It looks to erase any memory from their most recent game, the Cotton Bowl versus Texas A&M, where it got blown out in January.
It will be difficult to replace Jones, as the newest Pittsburgh Steeler threw for more than 4,200 yards (2nd in nation) last season and 30 touchdowns. As a team, the Sooners averaged 497 ypg (14th), including 337 ypg (5th) through the air. The offense also accounted for 60 touchdowns and 38.2 ppg (15th).
Damien Williams should start at halfback while Roy Finch and Brennan Clay will likely split carries. The two combined for over 600 yards rushing and seven scores while Williams carried the load with 946 yards on 173 attempts and 11 touchdowns in his first season in Norman.
As for the Warhawks, ULM had a fairly good non-conference schedule last season, starting with their upset over #8 Arkansas (34-31 OT) followed by a visit to Auburn and against Baylor, losing by a combine eight points (OT versus Auburn).
The Warhawks were 1-2 heading into conference play and went on to win their first six games before going 2-2 in their final four. ULM got invited to the Independence Bowl where it was defeated by Ohio, ending its season at 8-5 and 6-2.
Kolton Browning returns for his final season under center. The senior ranked 37th in the country with 3,049 passing yards last season. The team ranked 22nd with almost 3,800 total passing yards. The Warhawks also finished with over 5,600 total yards (39th) and 33.8 ppg (32nd).
Browning was also the team’s leading rusher with 488 yards and seven scores. Halfback Jyruss Edwards finished with 438 yards and didn’t play in the team’s last five contests.
Both teams will miss their star receivers in Kenny Stills (OU) and Brent Leonard (ULM). Leonard finished his career with a career-high 1,118 yards and 10 touchdowns last season while Stills, who went to the NFL early, had 959 yards and 11 scores.
On the defensive side, strong points come from interceptions. ULM recorded 16 (20th) and OU had 13 (44). OU will miss safety Javon Harris though, who picked off six of his own, good for fifth in the country.
After OU, the Warhawks will face Grambling State, Wake Forest and Baylor to finish out their non-conference schedule. OU will play West Virginia in week two before finishing its non-conference schedule against Tulsa at home and Notre Dame in South Bend.