Facing a team where their starting quarterback’s nickname is the “Belldozer,” you would think the team would rely more on a smash-mouth, power-running type of football, but when it comes to the Oklahoma Sooners, it’s their speed that got to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday.
Through head coach Brian Kelly’s recruiting, the Irish were able to bring in speed and depth on both sides of the ball, but no matter what kind of speed Kelly put out there, they were no match for the Sooners’ speed once they got into the open, which was often.
Sooner quarterback Blake Bell will never be confused with Tom Brady, but he did do exactly what Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees did the first few weeks of the season, play within himself and got the ball to his playmakers to allow them to create. Bell didn’t complete many passes down the field, but because of the speed and talent on the outside, the Sooners were able to turn a quick pass into a 54-yard back-breaking touchdown reception by Sterling Shepard.
When given the opportunity to line up helmet on helmet, the Irish front stuffed the Sooners’ run game, including halting the “Belldozer” on several short third- and fourth-down situations, but the moment Oklahoma spread the Irish defense back out, it was over, and Oklahoma was able to move the ball up and down the field almost at will.
The Irish defense came up big in spots, but they were doomed because they just weren’t quite quick enough, and look for Kelly to try and find ways to get more athletes on the field against the fast-paced Arizona State Sun Devils’ offense.