Aug 31, 2013; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Trevor Knight (9) rolls out of the pocket against UL Monroe Warhawks safety Cordero Smith (10) during the first half at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma vs. Louisiana-Monroe: Sooners shut out Warhawks 34-0

All eyes of Sooner Nation was on redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight as he took the field to play his first game as the new starting quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners. However, what they saw was a shaky performance by the young signal caller, but the team played flawless defense and the Sooners running game carried the day to give the Oklahoma Sooners a big 34-0 shutout win over the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.

Trevor Knight finished the game 11-of-28 passing for 86 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Blake Bell finished 3-for-5 for 38 yards in relief. While Bell had a better percentage (60% to 39%) and better yards-per-pass (7.6 yards to 3.1 yards), Trevor Knight threw the three touchdowns and got OU in position for another touchdown and two field goals. Knight finished with 103 rushing yards on 13 carries.

The running game was also solid, with Damien Williams leading the way with 16 carries for 66 yards, Brennan Clay carrying the ball eight times for 43 yards and Roy Finch looking most explosive with only four carries for 42 yards. Keith Ford also made a statement for more time with four carries for 20 yards.

To really show how bad the passing game was, Durron Neal was the second best receiver in the game, with two receptions for 27 yards, and all his yards came on one drive at the end of the game. Jalen Saunders led the way with three receptions for 30 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn’t a pretty performance.

Luckily, what was brilliant was the Oklahoma Sooners defense.

While Louisiana-Monroe is not a powerhouse, they were a bowl team in 2012 that beat Arkansas and almost beat both Baylor and Auburn. They also returned most of their playmakers, including a running quarterback – the Achilles heel for Oklahoma the past few seasons.

They limited Kolyton Browning to a 20-of-39 performance for 128 yards and an interception, and limited him to only three yards on four scrambles. Better than that, the leading Warhawks rusher was Jyruss Edwards, who picked up 9 yards on 3 carries, while Monterrell Washington ran 7 times for 7 yards. It was simply dominating.

The first quarter was very scary for fans who hoped that Trevor Knight could be the next Sam Bradford. By the end of the first quarter, fans were just hoping for the Sooners to score a point. Oklahoma and Louisiana-Monroe ended the first quarter locked up at zero, scoreless and scary. Trevor Knight was 3-10 in the first quarter for 7 yards and it looked like Blake Bell might see the field if things didn’t improve.

Luckily for Knight, the Sooners kept Louisiana-Monroe off the board in the first half while scoring a touchdown and two field goals to head into the half with a 17-0 lead.

The first scoring drive for the Sooners came with 11 minutes left in the second quarter. The drive was almost completely runs, with only two pass attempts, as it looked like Bob Stoops wanted to take some pressure off of Knight’s shoulders. Knight started the drive with a five-yard run, while Damien Williams ran for 21 yards, Brennan Clay added 23 yards and Roy Finch had one carry for eight yards. The end of the drive came when Knight hooked up with Jalen Saunders for a 12 yard touchdown pass.

After two field goals, the Sooners knew that they could stick with Knight in the second half and he settled down and started to finally show the talent that Bob Stoops preached about.

The third quarter was where Knight really showed what he could do. After the Sooners defense shut down the Warhawks offense once again, OU took over on the 47 yard line. After an incomplete pass, Knight ran the ball twice for 32 yards, and then Brennan Clay added a 7 yard run followed up by an 8 yard touchdown run.

After the team traded off punts, Louisiana-Monroe gambled and went for it on 4th and 7, failing to pick up a first down. Trevor Knight took the ball on the first snap after the turnover on downs and threw an 18 yard touchdown to Jalen Saunders to put OU up 27-0.

Louisiana-Monroe went three-and-out again and punted the ball to Jalen Saunders, who raced 45 yards down the field to put OU in the red zone. Knight threw a screen to Roy Finch, ran for two yards, and then completed a 13 yard touchdown pass to Trey Metoyer to increase the score to 34-0.

In the fourth quarter, Trevor Knight threw the first interception of his career to Cordero Smith, which allowed the Warhawks to move down into the red zone on their next drive. However, the Warhawks once again gambled on fourth down and failed.

That brought in Blake Bell and the reserves to finish off the game. On his first drive of the game, Bell ran for 15 yards and picked up a sack. He also completed his first pass of the 2013 season to Austin Bennett but also threw an incompletion to set up the punt. Keith Ford also ran for 18 yards on the drive while Alex Ross had an eight yard run, but had the gain cancelled by a personal foul. On the Sooners next drive, Durron Neal got some playing time, catching two Bell passes for 27 yards.

Thanks to the rushing game, the Sooners out-gained Louisiana-Monroe 429-166 yards and it was that dominating defensive performance that won the game for OU. The Sooners will have to hope that Trevor Knight gets more comfortable in the passing game as the season wears on or they will have to rely on this defense to win all their games in 2013.

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