Coming into the Red River Rivalry this weekend, it looked like the Oklahoma Sooners were in a position to roll the Texas Longhorns for a fourth-straight year. The Sooners had a solid offense with a running game that could grind out long drives and put points on the board. Texas had one of the worst run defenses in the country. But when push came to shove, the Longhorns rose up and Oklahoma’s decision not to use Blake Bell in the running game ultimately cost them.
Earlier this season, Texas gave up 550 yards rushing to the BYU Cougars, including 259 to their quarterback Taysom Hill. That performance led to a chance in defensive coordinators, but the personnel was all the same. Bell found a niche role in the Sooners’ offense in 2012 in the “Belldozer” package where he rushed for 11 touchdowns in short-yardage situations. This season, he’s been used less frequently in the running game but still got his number called with the read-option several times per game.
It would stand to reason that Bob Stoops would have turned to his quarterback with a proven ability to gain tough yards on the ground against a Texas defense that has struggled to contain the run this season. But as the game unfolded, Bell went missing in the running game and was completely left out of gameplan with few called run plays for the burly quarterback. Instead, Stoops chose to rely on Bell’s arm to run the offense and the results were extremely poor.
Bell finished the day with negative-27 yards rushing largely on scrambles from the pocket on passing plays. The Oklahoma offense, as a result, looked completely out of sorts and was pushed around all day long by the Longhorn defensive front. It was a baffling decision to take one of your weapons in the running game completely out of the gameplan and it cost the Sooners with a blowout upset at the hands of their biggest rivals.