OU football: Who was the Insight Bowl MVP?
Bob Stoops sat at the Insight Bowl press conference and was informed that backup quarterback Blake Bell had been named the game’s offensive most valuable player.
“I was shocked,” Stoops said. “I said, ‘What?’ Geez, the guy played nine plays.”
Bell, playing in OU’s short-yardage package, played more than nine plays. I think he played 12. Bell carried 10 times for 51 yards and scored three touchdowns. Bell played well. But his three touchdowns were possible either because OU’s offense had driven downfield under Landry Jones or OU’s defense set up the Sooners deep in Iowa territory.
Stoops said nothing against Bell, but didn’t Jones deserve the MVP more? Jones didn’t play well — 16 of 25 passing, for 161 yards, one touchdown, one interception — but he did play tough. Chipped a tooth and took a head-rattling hit with a scramble. Kept the patched-together Sooner offense mostly moving.
Stoops said the MVP decision was made by ESPN’s broadcast crew. In the announcers’ defense, who do you pick as MVP? Jones, like I said, didn’t play well. No receiver in the game gained more than 46 yards except Iowa flanker Keenan Davis, who had five catches for 76 yards. The leading rusher was Hawkeye tailback Jordan Canzeri, who had 58 yards on 22 carries.
I suppose you could make a case for OU’s Tress Way, whose six punts averaged 50.3 yards and who really was the Sooners’ best weapon.
Stoops’ defense of Jones probably has something to do with Jones’ impending decision on whether to declare for the NFL Draft. But it’s also based in common sense. Bell scored three touchdowns — and 13 for the season — because the Belldozer is implemented mostly when the Sooners are near the goal line and OU just overpowers people with a blocking advantage. To Bell’s credit, his size makes the package work, too. But the idea that Bell was more valuable than Jones, even on an off night for the OU quarterback, is sort of silly.
Reminds me of a story from 30 years ago. I was helping out the Oklahoma City Times with a little high school football coverage. Sports editor Bob Colon asked me to write a player-of-the-week story and suggested Edmond Memorial’s Doug Desherow, who had scored three touchdowns in the previous Friday night.
I called the Memorial coach and told him we had picked Desherow as player of the week. Uh, OK, the coach said. But are you sure? Turns out Desherow was a sophomore who had just started playing, he had scored on three one-yard sneaks and really hadn’t done a ton outside that.
I thought of that story Friday night. Bell didn’t just sneak it in from the 1-yard line. But all kinds of people did the heavy lifting, then Bell came in, scored three touchdowns and went home with the MVP trophy.
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