Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops named Blake Bell his starting quarterback against Notre Dame immediately following the junior’s virtuoso performance last weekend against Tulsa.
Bell did in three hours what it took Trevor Knight an entire offseason and preseason to do, though Stoops was careful Monday not to say the decision was written in stone for the rest of the season.
”We are not going to sit here and define all that,” Stoops said. ”Blake’s the guy right now. We will see from there how things go in practice and games and see how Kendal (Thompson) and Trevor continue to work, too. We’ll take that as it comes.”
Bell completed 27 of 37 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns in a 51-20 victory over the Golden Hurricane, a performance Stoops said was the best debut in the program’s history for a quarterback in his first start.
”That’s no surprise,” offensive lineman Darryl Williams said. ”All of our quarterbacks are good. They all are good enough to play. So it’s no surprise to any of us, I don’t think.”
It was, however, a surprise to fans who had come to believe Bell wasn’t a good passer after he played primarily in goal-line situations last season. It was the main reason many thought he lost the competition for the starting job to Knight when the season began.
But Stoops contends that Bell’s passing ability has never been in doubt. He said what the No. 14 Sooners (3-0) had to find out was how he would respond as the starter once the game began.
”I think the fact that Blake has been in for two years, in critical, tough, high-pressure situations, on third and fourth down, in goal-line and red zone stuff, he knew how to handle that,” Stoops said. ”I recall that they said the first time we put him in at Kansas State, to run one of those plays in the red zone, the first time he couldn’t get the play out of his mouth in the huddle.
”He couldn’t even talk. The guys were chuckling about it afterward. That was two years ago.”
Stoops said it wasn’t true that Oklahoma used a more wide-open offense for Bell compared to what had been a run-heavy look under Knight. He said defenses and matchups dictate what the Sooners call.
”That’s all part of game planning,” Stoops said. ”We don’t have two different offenses. That is something you guys can try and muster up. We don’t have two offenses, and we don’t have one tailored for one guy and one the other.”
Even though Stoops wouldn’t name a starter for the rest of the season, he’s still impressed with the way Bell was ready to go and took advantage of the opening.
”It’s a testament to his character that he didn’t get down, he didn’t get negative, he kept working,” Stoops said. ”He got his opportunity and was ready for it. He took all kinds of advantage of it. When you go through a year, somebody has to step up and continue to play for the team. Blake is a great example of persevering and get your opportunity and take advantage of it.”