NORMAN – Blake Bell looks like an Oklahoma quarterback. Marshal Dillon tall. Broad shoulders. Quiet confidence, though the ‘Dozer seems a tad more gregarious than poker-faced Sam Bradford and Landry Jones.
Yep, Bell looks like a Sooner quarterback. And Saturday, he looked like the Sooner quarterback.
The derby isn't over – coaches seem committed to keeping the competition alive into August – but Saturday, after the Red-White Game on Owen Field, there seems little doubt. Bell will get the call to lead the 2013 Sooners.
Bell fills the job requirements and Saturday played like the poised veteran he ought to be. I mean, once you've thrown fourth-down passes against Notre Dame, an April scrimmage in front of 20,000 friends and families should be a breeze.
“I just wanted to show that I can sling it around a little bit, too,” Bell said.
Mission accomplished. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns. And no major mistakes. That's what Bob Stoops says he's looking for most in a quarterback – the ability to avoid bad plays, and Bell did that while producing plenty of big plays.
A 37-yard deep ball to a well-covered Durron Neal, a three-yard TD pass to Neal on a third-down scramble, a 36-yard deep ball to Derrick Woods in a two-minute drill. Plus, tight end Taylor McNamara dropped what would have been a huge gain on a deep slant.
“I thought I did OK,” Bell said. “I missed a couple of throws and some were on me, some were on the receivers and that's just something we'll correct as a team.”
Stoops and quarterback guru Josh Heupel remain mum on any declaration – “When somebody's earned it, that's when we'll name a guy,” Heupel said – but by their own actions, it's clear Bell is in the lead .
With 1:45 left in the scrimmage, Stoops walked out to midfield and told both units it was time for a two-minute drill. The offense would be in a hurryup, trying to rally to victory. Then out trotted Bell, even though it was Trevor Knight's turn in the quarterback rotation, which had not deviated all day long.
Also, while OU used the three-back formation with all three quarterbacks, it was used with Bell and Knight only in short-yardage situations. But with Thompson, Heupel dialed up several three-back formations in a variety of situations.
Seems sensible if the Sooners are going to use a short-yardage alignment, something akin to the Belldozer, they would do so with their backup quarterback. The new-age OU philosophy might be to run the quarterback on occasion, but not into the ground.
Stoops wouldn't bite on any Bell-is-the-man theories. Wanted no part of any comparisons. But Stoops was willing to laud his most veteran quarterback.
“He's been in a lot of critical situations,” Stoops said. “Blake has a lot to him. We're not recruiting them if they're not a leader, not a worker and not a passer.”
Both Thompson and Knight looked fine, too. Thompson particularly, who could be a dynamo if he keeps progressing. But the thing both have on Bell – more mobility – is not a Bell weakness. The guy can move, as he showed on the short TD pass to Neal.
And here's where Blake Bell has moved most. To the top of the list. He's going to be the next OU quarterback.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.