There’s no question that Oklahoma Sooners junior quarterback Blake Bell is an intimidating and hard-to-tackle playmaker when running the ball. At 6-foot-6 and 254 pounds, he’s a legitimate threat in the red zone as a runner, but can he make the transition to starting quarterback in the spread offense-laden Big 12?
Bell has seen limited action as a quarterback since he stepped foot on campus. So limited, in fact, that he has only attempted 20 passes since his freshman year in 2011 for a grand total of 115 yards, one interception and zero touchdowns.
Now this isn’t to say that he can’t throw the ball, but he just hasn’t had the opportunity to show his arm in meaningful situations. Bell has mainly been called upon during situations where the Sooners are in the red zone and need to “Belldoze” their way into the end zone. Not many players in the country are better at doing this than Bell. Last year, he had 201 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on 60 carries.
Needless to say, he’s almost unstoppable within ten yards of the end zone.
However, he can’t get by on his running ability alone. The Big 12 conference likes to air the ball out and he will need to show that he can throw the ball accurately and often. The Sooners are, for the first time in a long time, not conference favorites to win the Big 12 championship and if they are to prove their doubters wrong, Bell is an essential key to their 2013 success.
The Sooners do return their third and fourth leading receivers from last year in senior Jalen Saunders and sophomore Sterling Shepard, who combined for 1,450 yards and six touchdowns in 2012. They also return their leading rusher, senior Damien Williams, who rushed for 946 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. Those offensive weapons could help Bell gain some confidence going into Big 12 play this fall.
It’s yet to be known if Bell can go head-to-head with other talented Big 12 quarterbacks, but he controls the keys to the Sooners offense in 2013, and will make or break their season with his arm starting on August 31 against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.
Weston Wilson is a college football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/westonw90