The Oklahoma Sooners are looking for a new quarterback in 2013 to replace four-year starter Landry Jones. Many people thought that the job would naturally slide to junior Blake Bell after he found success in the “Belldozer” packages the last two seasons. It’s been an open competition, however, and Bell has gotten pushed by sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight all throughout the spring. In the end, it will be Bell’s experience and his improved decision making this spring that wins him the starter’s job in 2013.
Bell is the only quarterback in the race who has taken snaps during a game. Last season, he saw extensive action, coming in for stretches, particularly in short yardage and goal line situations, in place of Jones to run the offense. This “Belldozer” offense was primarily a running formation, though, as Bell attempted just 16 passes in 2012, completing nine of them for 107 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. That lack of throwing experience is what opened the door for the quarterback competition this spring.
Where Bell really shined last season was with his legs. Coming in when the offense got near the goal line, Bell routinely punched it in from close-range, scoring 11 rushing touchdowns despite gaining just 182 yards. It was his ability with his legs that made him the early favorite for the quarterback job, especially when Bob Stoops admitted that the Sooners would be running with their quarterback more often in 2013.
But Thompson and Knight can both run as well, so Bell had to develop his game during the spring. After making an ill-advised throw on the run, across his body and back into the middle of the field that was intercepted on the first day of practice, Stoops took him aside and told him he needed to learn from that mistake and learn quick. Since then, according to coaches, he has been much smarter with the football and routinely makes good decisions, even under pressure.
If Bell can continue his intelligent play and show he will be able to protect the football, the Oklahoma coaches will have no choice but to turn the starter’s job over to Bell next season. Good decision making, paired with his experience in live-game situations, make Bell the best bet for the Sooners in 2013.