OU report card: Blake Bell, Jamell Fleming and Travis Lewis set the curve vs. Iowa

GRADING THE SOONERS — The Belldozer formation, the Sooners' senior defenders and Tress Way's punting were among the bright spots in Oklahoma's 31-14 victory over Iowa in the Insight Bowl. If this was Landry Jones' OU finale, it wasn't memorable.
by Berry Tramel Published: December 31, 2011

Nothing spectacular, but the Sooners played mostly solid against Iowa, considering their limitations.

Belldozer: A. The short-yardage offense works when quarterback Blake Bell keeps the ball. Otherwise, not so much. Bell scored three touchdowns off the short-yardage formation – at halftime, OU led 14-0 and had scored three December touchdowns, all by Bell, even though he had taken just six snaps in the month. And OU used Bell to put the game away, with a 21-yard TD run with 45 seconds left. But the Belldozer had some snags. Bell made just two yards on third-and-3 late in the second quarter, and a Trey Franks reverse on third-and-2 lost two yards in the fourth quarter.

Landry Jones: C. If this was Jones' last game as a Sooner, it wasn't memorable. Jones completed 16 of 25 passes for 161 yards, with one interception. He overthrew several receivers and took a couple of sacks without recognizing the quick pressure. Jones did end his TD-pass drought with a three-yard toss to tight end Trent Ratterree. And Jones' third-and-6 scramble for seven yards, which helped set up a second-quarter touchdown, was perhaps the most assertive scramble of his career, which probably impressed the NFL scouts. Of course, Jones got his clock cleaned on the play — and Iowa's Jordan Bernstine got a personal-foul penalty for hitting Jones in the head.

Senior defenders: A. Cornerback Jamell Fleming was excellent in his final OU game, dogging star Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt throughout. McNutt had just four catches for 46 yards. Fleming had an interception which set up an OU touchdown, broke up three passes and had seven tackles. He dogged star Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt, who had just four catches for 46 yards. Fellow senior Travis Lewis played superb in his final game as an OU linebacker. Lewis had five tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss.

Pregame excitement: A. The Insight Bowl provided more than a little drama even before kickoff. A series of parachuters from the 98th Flying Training Squadron at the Air Force Academy delivered flags to the field. The first jumper came in at breakneck speed; a fatality seemed likely before the parachuter landed at a slightly more reasonable pace. An impressive mini-fireworks show accompanied each team's entrance onto the field. Heck, even some airline cooperated. Near the end of the national anthem, a commercial jet flew over the stadium, on takeoff from nearby Sky Harbor Airport.

Kicking game: A. Tress Way's punting — 50-yard average on six kicks — was the game's most impressive statistic. He constantly pinned the Hawkeyes deep or kicked OU out of trouble. Way even made a tackle on an Iowa punt return. Also, kickoff returns of 52 yards by Trey Franks and 35 yards by Brennan Clay gave the Sooners good field position. And Michael Hunnicut's 35-yard field goal with 2:28 left iced the game.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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