By JOHN SHINN
NORMAN — The three-man race for Oklahoma’s quarterback job quickly dropped to two Thursday. Sophomore quarterback Kendal Thompson suffered a broken right foot during the program’s first preseason practice Thursday morning and is expected to miss the rest of preseason camp and likely the first few games of the season.
“We’re optimistic that Kendal will return early in the season,” Stoops said in a statement released Thursday afternoon. “Kendal will undergo a surgical procedure today. He has a very positive outlook and is eager to rejoin his teammates on the field as soon as possible.”
Thompson competed for the starting job with junior Blake Bell and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight throughout the spring. All three are vying to replace Landry Jones as the Sooners’ starting quarterback.
The competition was supposed to resume when the Sooners had their first preseason practice Thursday morning. An exact timetable for Thompson’s return was has not been given, but he’s expected to miss six to eight weeks due to the injury.
Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel have been adamant that the starting quarterback won’t be named until they are sure the job has been won.
“We’re excited about those three guys,” Heupel said Wednesday afternoon at the Citizens Advisory Board of Cleveland County Coaches Luncheon. “They all had great days in the spring. They all had days where they made a lot of mistakes.
“The great thing about being a coach with young players is that you see them make mistakes and grow from them every single day. When they’ve made a mistake, they haven’t repeated it.”
Bell was considered the favorite to win the job when spring practice ended in April. That made sense considering he was the only one of the three with game experience. He’s played in 20 games the last two seasons as a short-yardage quarterback, scoring 24 touchdowns.
Thompson, a former standout at Southmoore and the son of former OU option quarterback Charles Thompson, did not play in any games last season.
Knight, who is from San Antonio, redshirted last season.
One change that should be apparent when OU takes the field Aug. 31 against Louisiana-Monroe is that OU’s offensive linemen have grown. Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh wanted the group to put on mass in the offseason.
“Coach Bedenbaugh brings a real sense of physical presence. He wants us to be a dominant line up front,” guard Bronson Irwin said Thursday night at the Sooner Caravan in Oklahoma City. He’s really pushed us to be more physical, more aggressive up front. Obviously that puts an emphasis on running ball. He’s been great so far. We’re glad to have him.”