Oklahoma football: Ed Cunningham trashes the Belldozer
Ed Cunningham has replaced the Big East officiating crew as Public Enemy No. 1 in Soonerville. Cunningham earned his status well.
Cunningham had the audacity to question the validity of the Belldozer. Among Sooner fans, it’s God, Country and Blake Bell running the football on short-yardage situations.
Cunningham was an analyst on the OU-Iowa State game Saturday and repeatedly criticized the Belldozer. Which I thought was great. I didn’t necessarily agree with him, but for crying out loud, we finally find a football analyst who swims against the grain, and we want to toss him out with the bathwater?
Besides, how often do you get an Oscar winner calling your games? Look it up. Cunningham, who played center on the University of Washington’s 1991 national championship team and played five years in the NFL, won an Academy Award earlier this year for Best Documentary. He produced “The Undefeated,” about a Memphis high school football team.
Cunningham’s film commitment commands all of one sentence and 27 words on his Wikipedia page. And is followed immediately by this quickly-added sentence of 32 words: “Mr. Cunningham’s bias color analysis of the 2012 Oklahoma/Iowa State game was abysmal and began an instant negative feedback which led to his descent into a football color analysis free fall.”
Well, we’ll see about that.
Bob Stoops was asked about Cunningham’s criticism. Stoops said he was unaware of it. “Again, he obviously hasn’t watched it must,” Stoops said. “Must not have done his homework much.”
I thought I’d see for myself. I was in Ames for the game and didn’t get to hear Cunningham. So I went back and watched the OU-Iowa State telecast, and while Cunningham was off on some of his Belldozer beliefs, he made you think. Let’s analyze everything Cunningham said about the Belldozer.
* First quarter, OU faces 3rd-and-2 from the Iowa State 6-yard line. Bell is stopped for a one-yard gain.
Cunningham: “He fumbled a snap on the 1-yard line against Kansas State. And here, he’s got to cut this up a little faster.”
A true statement and an observation. Not too much damage yet.
* On the next play, 4th-and-1, Bell tries it again and is stuffed for no gain, while OU is called for a chop block anyway.
Cunningham: “He does that hesitation sometimes to wait for the hole. I think you just have to run that downhill. That hesitation, if you’re going to run this ball between the tackles, I think you have to go downhill. If you’re going to do it with Bell, fine. But let him catch it and be moving forward.
“That sidestep on short yardage against a very good defensive line almost never works, because they’re going to get penetration. Eventually you saw the linebacker make a play.
“Watch as Bell sidesteps, and it just takes too long. I just don’t get why you would delay that. Run it straight ahead. If you’re going to be between the tackles, against a good defensive line, you cannot delay the run.”
Well, to say the Belldozer “almost never works,” that’s just silly. The Belldozer works with amazing frequency. Bell has 22 touchdowns, all from the ‘Dozer, since the Belldozer was born in October 2011.
But does Cunningham have a point? Why the design of Bell waiting for a hole? Perhaps the blocking advantage is so great that the hole eventually opens no matter what. But to summarily dismiss Cunningham’s theory out of hand is a mistake, especially since the ‘Dozer has had its problems against OU’s best opponents this season.
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