NORMAN, Okla. -- Trevor Knight became just the fourth freshman to start a season-opener in school history for Oklahoma.
His finish was better.
No. 16-ranked Oklahoma and Knight didn't get off to a great start, but they were good enough to get by Louisiana-Monroe 34-0 on Saturday night in front of 84,911.
Knight was chosen over junior Blake Bell to start for the Sooners about a week ago, despite Bell having extensive experience and 24 rushing touchdowns the past two seasons. Yet it was Knight who received the nod because coaches said he has an ability to extend plays with his legs. He did, too.
It was Knight's arm, though, that looked shaky. Knight wasn't particularly sharp in the first half, going 7 of 21, but he did manage a 12-yard second-quarter TD pass to Jalen Saunders to cap a 14-play drive, 78-yard drive.
Knight was 3-of-10 passing in the first quarter for 41 yards, looking unstable on what looked like seemingly easy short passes to running backs and screens to wide receivers. However, Knight was impressive running the ball. He took off for a 24-yard run the first time he escaped the pocket and finished with six carries for 52 yards in the first half.
By the second half, OU was in control, and not surprisingly, Knight looked a lot looser. He had two third-quarter touchdown passes -- one to Saunders and another to Trey Metoyer -- and wound up 11-for-28 passing in the game with three touchdowns and 86 yards.
As for those legs that Stoops and the coaches talked about? Well, Knight was good there, too. He had 103 yards on 13 carries through three quarters, leading all ball carriers.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma defense, which came in with plenty of questions, particularly on the line where the team lost five starters from a season ago, was a lot better than expected, including defensive end Charles Tapper, who looked better than any defensive end the Sooners had last year.
It wasn't that long ago that the Sooners finished the 2012 season by getting gouged by Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma also gave up massive numbers to West Virginia and TCU last season, but Oklahoma looked much improved in the season-opener.
ULM had just 6 yards rushing in the first quarter and only 83 at halftime as OU led 13-0 and forced the Warhawks into six punts before the break. It was 34-0 after three quarters and by that time ULM had just 126 yards of total offense.
And back to Bell. Considered by most to be the starter this season after his production during the past two seasons, he was on the sideline for most of the first half without a helmet on. Bell didn't make an appearance until there was 10:53 left in the game, suggesting that Knight has earned the starting spot for at least one more week. The Sooners face West Virginia at home on Sept. 7.