Many Oklahoma Sooners fans thought Blake Bell would be the next starting quarterback for OU. He didn’t initially win the competition, but a big performance in the Sooners’ week three game against Tulsa proved he was the right man for the job.
Bell played frequently last season on short-yardage downs, but the concern was always about how well he could pass. In his first college start, Bell definitively answered the questions about his arm, throwing for 413 yards and four touchdowns. He also set a new school record for most passing yards in a first start, topping Sam Bradford‘s 363.
Bell dominated from the outset as the Sooners scored on their first five possessions of the game. By halftime, he had completed 15 of 21 passes for 281 yards.
Bell’s performance had to be energizing for the junior who started the season second-string.
Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight initially, and surprisingly, jumped Bell on the depth chart and started the Sooners’ first two games of the year. He got off to a shaky start in the opener, and while he proved he’s a fast, mobile player, his passing raised even more questions than Bell’s. In the first two games, he completed 43.8% of his passes for 205 yards. (Bell had 288 in the first half against Tulsa.)
Knight suffered a bruised knee against West Virginia, making the decision about whether to switch quarterbacks easier for OU head coach Bob Stoops.
With his performance against Tulsa, Bell made sure Stoops wouldn’t need to rethink that decision any time soon.
After the game, Stoops called Bell “the story of the game” and announced he would remain the starter when the Sooners travel to Notre Dame on Sept. 28.
“We were trying to improve our passing game and he obviously did that,” Stoops said following the 51-20 win.
Bell’s arm will face a tougher test in two weeks against the Fighting Irish, but the Sooners should have more confidence heading into the key nonconference game after finding its passing game this weekend.
Even if Knight had been healthy and had started against Tulsa, there would still be major concerns about the young player’s ability to get the job done in South Bend.
Bell will make only his second start against Notre Dame, but his first was more impressive than anything Knight showed, and he also has more overall experience over the last two years.
Bell scored a touchdown for the Sooners in last year’s loss to the Irish, and now that he’s officially claimed the starting quarterback position at OU, he’ll have even more opportunities to get the Sooners on the board.
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