NORMAN — Through two games as Oklahoma's starting quarterback, Blake Bell has played efficient, poised and virtually mistake-free football.
But the junior hasn't let his new leadership responsibilities diminish the emotional, fiery demeanor that endeared him to OU fans over the past couple of years.
“I feel like everyone on game day, you've got to have a little fire in you,” Bell said. “Being a quarterback, you have to have that cool. You can't get too high or too low.
“There are some times when you have to get the plays going or get the team going.”
Bell leads unbeaten Oklahoma into Saturday's 6 p.m. home contest against TCU having completed more than 70 percent of his pass attempts with 683 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
In wins over Tulsa and Notre Dame, Bell recorded one of the more impressive two-game beginnings to an OU starting quarterback's career in the Bob Stoops era, which includes two Heisman Trophy-winning signal callers and one runner-up.
But Bell is also unique in the way he carries himself on the field. Past Stoops-era quarterbacks have remained more business-like in their approach, none more so than Landry Jones.
Stoops doesn't buy that a quarterback's on-field demeanor makes any difference in how those around him play.
“I don't see that as why they're rallying,” Stoops said. “I think it's having success. In the end, Blake has played really well and they've played well around him.”
Still, Jones rarely displayed full-on, unbridled emotion as starter over the past four seasons, during which he shattered nearly every program passing record and led the Sooners to a pair of Big 12 titles.
“When someone shows passion for what they do, and externally expresses that passion, it's easier to get behind them,” said senior center Gabe Ikard. “Landry was a great player, we all know that, and we had his back 100 percent. But he had a different demeanor, and just a different personality than Blake.
“We're not gonna support Blake any more than we did Landry, but it's fun when your quarterback gets fired up.”
That fire has excited OU fans since Bell's first touchdown out of the “Belldozer” package two seasons ago at Kansas State. Those who know Bell best, though, say that's how he's always competed.
“When he'd get dunks or have exciting moments, it'd pump up the whole team,” said Joe Brown, Bell's teammate in football and basketball at Wichita's Bishop Carroll High. “He was so excited and enthusiastic about playing. I loved the way he reacts.”
Bell's personality shines through in other ways off-the-field, too. He appears much more comfortable and engaging than Jones during media interviews.
Last season, it was revealed that Bell's teammates call him “White Shades” because he wore a pair of white sunglasses and danced around the locker room.
“As linemen, we love seeing a quarterback show emotion, showing that he cares,” Ikard said. “It makes you want to block harder. It makes you want to play harder.”