For two years, the Oklahoma Sooners turned to quarterback Blake Bell, also known as “The Belldozer,” in short yardage and goal line situations. Bell is the team’s starting quarterback now, but in the Sooners’ win over TCU, he proved he still has what it takes to make key plays with his legs.
Bell spent the offseason trying to prove to the coaching staff that he had the arm to be Oklahoma’s next great passer and could do more than just score rushing touchdowns. When he finally got his chance in the Sooners’ third game of 2013, he put on a show, throwing for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns.
Through three games, Bell is completing just shy of 70 percent of his passes for 835 passing yards and six touchdowns. And after two years of success running Bell on short yardage downs, offensive coordinator Josh Heupel has flipped the script on his new passer.
On the Sooners’ first touchdown drive, Bell passed for first downs instead of rushing, once on third-and-three and, later in the drive, on fourth-and-three. A six-yard pass to Brennan Clay on third-and-two on the Sooners’ next possession ultimately led to the field goal that put Oklahoma up, 13-0, before halftime.
Bell is proving he can make plays with his arm as well as his leg, but sometimes his instinct is just to take off running, as he did to help the Sooners secure the win against the Horned Frogs. He kept OU’s first scoring drive going with a four-yard rush on fourth-and-two, and throughout the game he made plays out of sticky situations, scrambling three times for 24 combined yards.
The team’s third-leading rusher this season, Bell showed he’s still a powerful, effective rusher. He finished with 14 carries for 61 yards against TCU, perhaps none more important than his two first downs on the Sooners’ final possession.
Attempting to run out the clock and preserve a 20-17 win over the Horned Frogs, Bell bowled over his defenders to convert a second-and-11 into a first down with a 13-yard carry. Two plays later, he had his longest run of the year when he sealed the Sooners’ win with a 17-yard carry on second-and-ten.
Bell is working hard to push past his “Belldozer” reputation, and the play calls are attempting to set him up for success as a passing quarterback, but sometimes the Belldozer is still at his best when he goes back to his roots as a bruising, powerful rusher.