DALLAS — In his limited role last October, Blake Bell scored four rushing touchdowns in Oklahoma's 63-21 Red River rout of Texas.
Based on the Longhorn defense's abysmal showing against running quarterbacks so far this season, Bell could have an even bigger game on the ground Saturday, when the junior starts his first career OU-Texas game inside Dallas' Cotton Bowl Stadium.
Nearly every quarterback Texas has faced so far this season has rushed for more yards than his season average. Kansas State's quarterback duo of Jake Waters and Daniel Sams are the only exceptions to that rule so far.
Through five games, opposing quarterbacks have rushed for 523 yards and four touchdowns against Texas.
“Some of what's happened to them is in third-and-long situations, the quarterback has scrambled and made a play while they were in coverage,” said OU co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “Sometimes those opportunities present themselves and some times they don't.”
Bell has been presented several of those opportunities through his three games as the Sooners' starting quarterback. He tallied a combined 120 rushing yards on 16 carries in the Sooners' last two games against the tough run defenses of Notre Dame and TCU.
Those yards came on some designed quarterback runs, some option keepers and some scrambles.
Against Texas, he could very well become the first Oklahoma quarterback to rush for 100 yards in the Red River Rivalry since Charles Thompson in 1987.
Bell gained fame over the past two years picking up first downs and short-yardage touchdowns out of the “Belldozer” package, but has shown so far that his game isn't limited to the power run game.
He still hasn't thrown an interception, and even helped run the clock out in the fourth quarter against TCU with a couple long runs for first downs.
In last Thursday's 31-30 win at Iowa State, Texas allowed Cyclones quarterback Sam Richardson to pick up 83 rushing yards. Much of that came on third-down scrambles when the Longhorns' secondary had receivers well-covered.
“You've got to have more controlled pass rush and you've got to make sure you get in the right lanes,” said Texas coach Mack Brown. “We've got to do a better job this weekend or Bell will be like Sam Richardson, and any time they've got a third down … they're going to just run for the first down, so we can't do that.
“And Bell is hard to tackle in space, so that's another thing. It's been hard for one guy to get him down.”
QBs ON THE MOVE VS. TEXAS
Opposing quarterbacks have recorded 523 rushing yards on 86 carries — good for about six yards per carry — against the Texas defense so far this season.
Here's a game-by-game look at what quarterbacks have done on the ground against the Longhorns so far this season:
Andrew McDonald, New Mexico State: McDonald picked up 50 yards on 14 rushes, including a long run of 15 yards, in the Longhorns' 56-7, season-opening win. For the season, McDonald is averaging 20 rushing yards for the 0-6 Aggies.
Taysom Hill, BYU: Hill rushed for a career-high 259 yards on 17 carries — averaging 15.2 yards per touch — and three touchdowns in BYU's 40-21 rout of the Longhorns. Through five games for the 3-2 Cougars, Hill has only eclipsed 100 yards rushing in one other game, gaining 165 yards against Middle Tennessee State.
Bo Wallace, Ole Miss: Wallace recorded 12 carries for 57 yards in the Rebels' 44-23 win at Texas. He's averaging 23.4 yards rushing per game through five games.
Jake Waters and Daniel Sams, Kansas State: Texas held Kansas State's dual quarterback attack in check in this 31-21 win to open Big 12 play. Waters gained 44 rushing yards, but lost 18 of them on four sacks and finished with a net 26 yards on 18 carries. Sams carried the ball eight times for 48 yards.
Sam Richardson, Iowa State: Richardson recorded a season-high 83 rushing yards on 17 carries in the Cyclones' 31-30 loss to Texas on Thursday. He's averaging 48.5 yards per game on the ground this season