NEW ORLEANS — Blake Bell jogged onto the Superdome field for pregame warmups, and began taking snaps from center Gabe Ikard, normally a strong sign of who Oklahoma plans to start at quarterback.
But after a few repetitions, Bell and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight switched places — another surreptitious ploy to confuse Alabama — and Knight started the game, was spectacular and seemingly locked up the job moving forward.
Bell is a senior academically, meaning he could graduate and transfer to another Football Bowl Subdivision program without having to sit out a year if he chooses to do so.
“We'll make a home for a Blake one way or another,” coach Bob Stoops said Friday morning. “Whatever he wants to do. I hope he doesn't want to transfer because he can play a lot of different ways. We'll find out with him and if this is the course we go how we can make that work for him.”
Bell's father, Mark Bell, played tight end and defensive end at Colorado State before enjoying a six-year NFL career.
Asked if Blake Bell could change positions, Stoops said, “If need be. I'm not saying we're gonna do that. … The guy is a great teammate, competitor and a big part of this team. Hopefully, we can make it work for him. … We wanna make it work for him.”
Bell started eight games for Oklahoma this season, completing 60.1 percent of his pass attempts for 1,648 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions.
He also took over in the fourth quarter of the Sooners' 33-24 win at Oklahoma State last month when Knight was injured and sophomore Kendal Thompson was ineffective. Bell led the Sooners on a last-minute, game-winning touchdown drive to secure OU's Sugar Bowl berth.
Stoops declined to name a starting quarterback leading up to the matchup with Alabama, and even made both Bell and Knight available to reporters a few days before the Sugar Bowl.
But Stoops said Friday that coaches always intended for Knight to play the entire game.