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Big 12 football notebook: Oklahoma's Blake Bell improves decision making

by Jason Kersey Published: April 23, 2013

Asked Tuesday about junior quarterback Blake Bell's biggest improvement in spring football, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops cited his decision making.

Stoops, speaking during the Big 12 spring football teleconference, said in OU's first padded practice of the spring, Bell ran hard to his left and threw a dangerous pass across to the other side of the field where it was intercepted.

“Hopefully he learned a valuable lesson even in that first practice that you can't be careless with the football,” Stoops said. “Since then he hasn't been. Since that day you haven't seen a mistake like that. They've all made them at different times through the spring but that was something that was noticeable, just being smart with the football is such a big deal.”

Bell is considered the favorite to take over for four-year starter Landry Jones, although sophomore Kendal Thompson and redshirt freshman Trevor Knight have pushed Bell through spring workouts.

“The important part for all of them will be the decision making, who can make the correct reads and decisions with taking care of the football and delivering it where it needs to be,” Stoops said.

SPENCER GIVES CREDIT TO SENIOR LEADERSHIP

Oklahoma State spring practice ended with a scrimmage clearly won by the defense, a positive sign for Glenn Spencer as he tries to implement a more aggressive attack in his first season as coordinator.

Some changes in approach were evident in that spring finale, such as defensive backs playing tighter in coverage and a renewed emphasis on the pass rush.

But Spencer gives the credit to veteran leadership, as the Cowboys have seven senior starters on that side of the football in end Tyler Johnson, tackle Calvin Barnett, linebackers Caleb Lavey and Shaun Lewis, safeties Daytawion Lowe and Shamiel Gary and cornerback Justin Gilbert.

“They've seen the speed of the game in the conference,” said Spencer, who filled in for an ill Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy on the conference call. “They know how to function. They know how to execute. Typically, guys like that that have played a lot, when something's going wrong, they know how to fix it. They know how to approach game day mentality. They know how to travel.

“A lot of things (are) little things you don't think about, but they make a difference on game day and I've got some guys that have done that. That has nothing to do with me. Come on, now. It has nothing to do with me. I'm just stepping into a good situation with good senior leadership.”

BROWN: LAST THREE YEARS ‘ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE'

In the three seasons since Texas appeared in the 2009-10 national championship game, the Longhorns are 22-17 overall. Coach Mack Brown said Tuesday, though, he's optimistic that 2013 will show marked improvement.

“We've still got some unanswered questions, but we have a chance because we're older at quarterback,” Brown said of veteran signal caller David Ash. “We're two-deep with experience at quarterback. We've got speed at wide receiver, and tailback. We've got an offensive line that's back for a third year in a row. We've got depth in our defensive line and secondary, and we've got five or six linebackers that can play.”

Brown, who led Texas to a national championship in 2005, said last year's Alamo Bowl win and 9-4 record showed progress, but that it still wasn't good enough.

“They understand that the last three years are not acceptable,” Brown said of his players. “They're not the standard that we've set forth for many, many years. They're not who we want to be. We want to go back and win conference championships, we want to get back in the mix for the national championship.”

PATTERSON: TCU QB DERBY ‘VERY CLOSE'

TCU enters 2013 with two quarterbacks with starting experience, as Trevone Boykin stepped in when Casey Pachall left the team to seek treatment for substance abuse.

Coach Gary Patterson said he plans to name a starter sometime during fall camp. But the tight race is quite different from the situation the Horned Frogs had coming out of spring practice last year.

“When we left spring last year, we felt like that we could only play with one quarterback (Pachall),” Patterson said. “And obviously after four games, we couldn't play with him. Trevone grew up a lot during the season. I think he's far surpassed that enough to where that race at quarterback is very close.

“One beats with you with his arm, one beats you with his legs, and then how do both of them get better at the other part of it? Trevone really improved the throwing part of it.”

SNYDER WON'T CHANGE APPROACH

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder loses lots of key players from last season's Big 12 championship team, including quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein.

But Snyder said the team's approach won't change despite its relative inexperience.

“The bottom line is, it's just a matter of doing the best you can every single day, finding ways to get better every day, working diligently on the entirety of our package, being able to combine what your personnel will allow us to do and what it will not allow us to do, and the old adage of being able to circumvent your weaknesses and play to your strengths,” Snyder said. “That hasn't changed in 20-some odd years.”

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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