NORMAN, Okla. – Now that Oklahoma has expanded its ways, moving from a throwing quarterback to a quarterback who can throw and run, it’s time to wonder just how much the Sooners want Blake Bell using his legs.
Some? A lot? Somewhere in between?
Well, having a dual-threat QB is a luxury, for sure, but having a dual-threat QB who is hurt, doesn’t do anybody any good.
And the Sooners have already been faced with the issue twice this season. The first time came when then-starter Trevor Knight got injured on a run in the first half against West Virginia. The bruised knee caused him to miss the next game against Tulsa.
And it happened again when Bell had to leave briefly against Notre Dame with cramps. Now, you could argue cramps aren’t an injury, but something caused Bell to have to take a break.
It’s a difficult situation for the Sooner offense. Coaches see Bell as a viable option running the ball, which he is, another element that complements their rushing game, yet, one run too many could mean an injury.
Then there’s this:
For the past two seasons, OU coaches have told Bell to put his head down and don’t look up until he gets in the endzone or a first down. Now, he’s asked to do more, but undoubtedly Bell still has the mentality to run guys over.
Umm, might wanna be more careful now, Blake.
“I’m the same,” Bell said of his running style from last year to this year. “The package last year was for short-yardage. Now, I’m running the offense. When you have the ball in your hands, you have the power to make someone miss, run, or go make a play. That would be the difference. Other than that, it’s the same.”
The same means a bruising mentality that is prone for big collisions.
“I don’t want to see him run it too much,” said running back Roy Finch. “I’d rather have him throw it to the skill guys. “But if he has to run it, and do what he has to do to make plays, whatever the situation, he has to do it.”
You certainly don’t want to handcuff a guy like Bell, who has a bunch of ability we’re all just now getting to see, but was it all that running that caused all that cramping?
Other than Brennan Clay’s 14 carries, Bell’s 12 were the most on the team. He ran it 10 times against Tulsa the week before. The 22 combined rushes don’t seem like too many, but it does seem like a lot.
“I don’t know,” center Gabe Ikard said with a smile. “He was cramping back there.”
Now, Ikard was joking, of course, but there has to be some degree of waiting to exhale every time Bell tucks it and runs with it.
“I feel like he’s more comfortable back there now,” Finch said. “It’s exciting to see him grow up and it shows that he’s established himself.”
He spent the Tulsa game establishing his arm, throwing for 413 yards. He threw for 232 more against Notre Dame and rushed for 59 yards as well against the Irish. That kind of production leads to confidence, leads to creativity and leads to Bell likely being asked to do a lot more.
And couple that with the fact he hasn’t turned it over and hasn’t thrown an interception, you have to figure coaches are going to trust him more today than they did yesterday.