Oklahoma football: Blake Bell back behind the wheel of the Belldozer

Asked during his weekly press conference if the Sooners had the Belldozer package available, the Oklahoma coach acknowledged as much.
by Jenni Carlson Published: August 25, 2014


photo - Oklahoma's Blake Bell (10) runs during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma's Blake Bell (10) runs during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

So, with Baker Mayfield’s eligibility up in the air, that leaves Cody Thomas as the only available backup. He’s missed a couple practices with a muscle sprain, but even though he’s back to full strength, that doesn’t change the fact he still hasn’t taken a snap in a live college game.

Now, if Mayfield is allowed to play this season, the Sooners’ quarterback depth changes in a heartbeat. Asked on Monday if Mayfield had taken enough snaps thus far to step in and play if needed, Stoops didn’t hesitate in answering in the affirmative.

But it’s anyone’s guess when the NCAA will rule on Mayfield’s eligibility. It may be this month. It may be a while.

Remember the Jalen Saunders situation two seasons ago? His eligibility was in question after his transfer from Fresno State, but the NCAA didn’t rule until Texas week.

Who knows when the Mayfield situation will be resolved?

Add those depth problems to Knight’s injury woes last season, and you can see why Stoops and Co. would prefer to keep Knight out of short-yardage situations. Big pileups at the line of scrimmage? Lots of big bodies crashing into each other? Yeah, having Knight as far away from that as possible seems like a good idea.

Even with all of that, perhaps the biggest thing left unsaid in announcing that the Belldozer is revving up is that the trust in Bell is extreme, too. Off the charts. Through the roof.

On Monday, Bell was named as the Sooners’ starting tight end. This is a position that he has never played in a college game. Even though we’ve heard from Day 1 about how well Bell has done at his new position, the challenge of making a position change of this magnitude can’t be understated. He’s had to bulk up. He’s had to learn techniques and plays. He’s had to change duties and mindsets.

That’s a big deal.

And yet, Bell has apparently handled it like it’s not.

It’s just one more thing that has earned him the trust of coaches. He earned it as a back-up doing spot duty in the Belldozer. He earned it as an off-again, on-again, off-again, on-again starter last season. Every step of the way, Bell has been capable and mature.

So it is again.

“Blake is a guy who has always had a lot of respect from his teammates and his coaches,” Sooner co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said. “And I think the unselfish move to tight end and doing all the things that he has had to do to prepare himself has just endeared him more.

“I think if anybody deserves to have a great senior year, it’s him.”

Here we thought this year would be only at tight end, but because of extreme caution over Knight, extreme concern about quarterback depth and extreme trust in Bell, it seems we might see Bell in an even more familiar position — behind the wheel of the Belldozer.

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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