NORMAN — Oklahoma's wildcat formation with Blake Bell is here to stay. Right, Coach Stoops?
“No,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said, “I don't think we'll run that again.”
He was joking.
In reality, expect more of the big third-team quarterback in goal-line and short-yardage situations, a package that made its debut last week in OU's win at Kansas State.
“It's just a wrinkle that will be there,” Stoops said during his Tuesday news conference. “The positive part of that is there's multiple ways you can run with him. Also, we like the way he throws the ball. We'll have some different combinations, different ways he can throw it, too, that hopefully take advantage of the way people align.”
The team knows the formation as “cat,” but fans are adopting “BellBone” and “Belldozer” for it.
Bell entered the game on the team's first possession, punching in a score against the Wildcats from a yard out. Stoops heard from offensive coordinator Josh Heupel that Bell could barely get the call out, because he was so nervous.
“That's part of being a young guy who hasn't been on the field a ton,” Stoops said. “I think it's good we got it out there.”
So, was it bad the Sooners tipped their hand with the formation in a 41-point blowout, rather than saving it for a bigger game down the line?
“The first time we trotted it out was the first touchdown,” Stoops said. “Who's to say we were going to win the way we were? You can't anticipate that. It's already out of the bag.
“The other part of it was, as you say, it was his first time out there. He drops one of them. It's experience running it. … You have to get experience doing it. I was glad to get him out there and get him more comfortable in it.”
BELL REMINDS SOME OF FORMER SOONERS STAR – BUT BIGGER
Bell runs 6 foot 6 and 245 pounds, officially, making him a natural for the run-pass option when a yard or two is needed.
“See 260 pounds going downhill, I know for a fact we're going to get 5 yards,” running back Brennan Clay said of Bell. “He's big, physical. He's not slow. I've seen his highlight tapes.”
A comparison was made to former Sooner and Heisman winner Jason White, before White had his knee issues.
“Yeah, but with about 3 inches and about 25 more pounds – or 30,” Stoops said. “Jason wasn't nearly that big. But, as far as an athlete, yeah.”
Bell, from Wichita, is listed as the co-No. 2 with Drew Allen, but Bell has typically been the third quarterback in games. Bell and Allen figure to battle for the starting job in the spring, if Landry Jones leaves early for the NFL.
“He looks good throwing the football,” Stoops said. “He's a big, strong guy, got a good release.”
CONFERENCE DEBATE DOES NOT FAZE STOOPS
The SEC has overtaken the Big 12 for the country's top conference, according to computers that formulate such things. Stoops shrugged when asked about the two leagues.
“It's not for me to lobby who's best, who isn't the best,” Stoops said. “That's what people do, sit around tables and talk about it. I couldn't care less. At the end of the day, we have to play, they have to play.
“I think it's fair to say that, when you look at our conference top to bottom, we've played well. When you look at (the Big 12's) record out of conference (27-3) and the quality of teams and the way teams are playing … it is what it is. You can't deny that.”
The SEC's marquee game, between Alabama (No. 2 in BCS) and LSU (No. 1), is this weekend. The way things are shaping up, the Big 12's big game will be the Dec. 3 Bedlam matchup of the Sooners (No. 6) and Oklahoma State (No. 3).
THE WHALEY PLAN: DOM ON SCHOLARSHIP FOR SPRING
Stoops again talked Tuesday about his decision to put walk-on running back Dominique Whaley on scholarship by January – despite the season-ending ankle injury Whaley suffered last weekend.
“At mid-year, we were already planning on putting Dom on scholarship,” Stoops said. “That was our plan. It's like he was part of this recruiting class. The plans had already been made.
Stoops described an emotional scene after the game in which he informed Whaley he would have his senior year paid for by OU.
“I made sure that, after the game, to put my arm around Dom and let him know how much I appreciate him,” Stoops said. “Any guy who gets hurt fighting for you … ‘Listen, I wanted you to know we've already made that decision and this isn't going to change that.'”
Whaley is leading the team with 627 yards and nine touchdowns – and it'll be difficult for another Sooner to catch those figures, given the gap between them.
STOOPS WEIGHS IN ON PLAYERS' PAYDAY FROM NCAA
Like a lot of other coaches, Stoops looked favorably upon the NCAA's decision last week to allow schools to pay players an additional $2,000 – to help cover the cost of attendance.
“I was on record this summer as giving the players money for the price of attendance, not to exceed what school entails,” he said. “I think it's good, it's positive. It gives them, you know, a little more dollars in their pocket to manage, whether it be their rent, their travel home, those kinds of things.
“Anything we can do to enhance, I believe, the student-athlete's experience, we should try and do within the realm of keeping the rules and regulations the way they are.”
Conferences will individually determine whether to put the NCAA's suggestion into effect. The Big 12 has given no indication how it will vote, though it's expected to pass the rule.
FLAG FOOTBALL FUN COMING TO NORMAN-TOWN?
Seeing that locked-out Thunder star Kevin Durant had gone to play flag football with Oklahoma State students got Sooners rover Tony Jefferson thinking.
“Bro are you coming to ball up here in flag football or what?” Jefferson asked on Twitter to former OU and current Clippers star Blake Griffin.
Griffin said “possibly” and asked if he knew of any good defensive backs, referring to Jefferson, a finalist for a handful of postseason awards.
By Travis Haney