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December 28, 2013

Alabama preparing for Bell and Knight in Sugar Bowl

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NEW ORLEANS -- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops declined to name a starting quarterback for OU in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Alabama, and he won't until one walks under center at the Superdome on Jan. 2.

"Well we intend to be unsettled about quarterback all the way up until the game," Stoops said. "I wouldn't say it's unsettled I would say that it's purposeful. And let's face it, both those guys in different situations have really done well so we have to have both of them ready to go."

The likely candidates for the job are redshirt freshman Trevor Knight and junior Blake Bell after both proved instrumental in helping Oklahoma defeat Oklahoma State last month and vault the Sooners into their second BCS bowl game in four years.

One thing is for sure. Alabama coach Nick Saban and his players will prepare for both.

"I don't think there is a whole lot of difference in what they do," Saban said, "but I think their skill sets are different in terms of one guy being a big, physical runner and the other not as big, but very athletic. I think our players have to be very aware of the two styles those guys have."

Crimson Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley is aware of the different tools Knight and Bell carry and the identity change that occurs within the Sooner offense depending on which quarterback is on the field.

"They have one that is more of a passing quarterback - he is tall and a bigger guy," Mosley said. "The other is more of an athletic quarterback and if we contain him on the pass, he can still get out and scramble. We have to do a good job there both for the linebackers and defensive backs."

Mosley broke down Knight and Bell down exactly the way you expect a consensus first team All-America defensive player to, but it's simple to say what should be done. It's harder to execute what has been said in front 80,000 folks.

Knight, who won the job during fall camp in August is undefeated as the starting quarterback at Oklahoma, leading OU to wins against Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia, Kansas State and OSU.

His ability to execute the zone read play, a play that has driven Oklahoma's run game this season, has made him a formidable threat to gouge defenses with his legs.

Bell showed he can perform in big moments when OU fans knew him only as the Belldozer, and this season when he led OU to a decisive victory against Notre Dame and a Bedlam win in the waning minutes of the game for a second consecutive season.

Bell and Knight have each earned the opportunity to start this game, and both might indeed play in it. Senior center Gabe Ikard alluded to that possibility shortly after team landed Friday afternoon at Louis Armstrong International Airport.

"You see two quarterback systems all over the country and you have two guys that are very talented, but talented in different things," Ikard. "It's not a problem when you have two guys as talented as Blake and Trevor."

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