NORMAN — In late July at Big 12 Media Days, Bob Stoops made a full confession to Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.
“I said, ‘I saw you running all those plays, and I got a guy just like that ... we started running all your plays,'” Stoops said.
“He started laughing and he said, ‘I saw all those plays. They looked just like ours.'”
Oklahoma, with a bye this weekend, is preparing for next Saturday's home battle with Kansas State, the inspiration for — and first victim of — the Sooners' short-yardage package known as the “Belldozer.”
Oklahoma unveiled the Belldozer on its first drive of last season's win in Manhattan, Kan.
The Sooners advanced to the 1-yard line, when redshirt freshman Blake Bell entered the game, took a shotgun snap and ran untouched into the end zone for the first of his 13 rushing touchdowns.
As OU coaches began installing the package last year, Adam Shead's memory took him back two years earlier, when he went online to check out his fellow members of OU's 2010 recruiting class.
When he came across Bell's highlight video, Shead was amazed.
“I remember seeing Blake ... I looked at him and said, ‘Holy crap; he's fast, and he can throw,'” said Shead, now an sophomore starting guard.
“He reminded me of Tim Tebow.”
Sooner coaches wouldn't have recruited Bell if they weren't convinced he could throw the ball; the 6-foot-6, 254-pounder was classifed by Rivals.com as a “pro-style quarterback” when he was still at Bishop Carroll High.
But in addition to his impressive passing numbers in high school — he threw for 2,752 yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior — he was also a strong, powerful threat to run with the ball, rushing for over 1,100 yards and 34 touchdowns over his last two prep seasons.
Quarterbacks with skills of that nature don't come around often, and when they do, coaches are eager to find ways to get them involved. Before Tebow was a Heisman Trophy winner at Florida, he was a situational quarterback as a freshman on the Gators' 2006 national championship team.
A record-setting passer like Landry Jones, though, can make even the best coaches forgetful of his backups. That is, until Stoops watched Kansas State and its powerful, 6-foot-5, 226-pound quarterback barreling over defenses.
Stoops was asked last week why more teams don't adopt similar schemes.
“Getting your quarterback hurt,” Stoops said. “They're taking a lot of shots. Like Collin is and Blake is, you'd better be (able) to handle all the hitting.
“And then as soon as you get them hurt, you'd better have another one. If you don't, you've got a whole new offense starting.
“Those kind of guys are fairly hard to find.”
Klein scored 27 rushing touchdowns last season, an NCAA record for quarterbacks. Bell scored 11 of OU's 14 touchdowns last year after Ryan Broyles' season-ending ACL tear.
But after Bell was named as Jones' primary backup — and, as such, heir apparent to the Sooners' quarterback job next season — many wondered if subjecting him to tough hits very often was a good idea. On OU's first Belldozer attempt of the season at UTEP, Bell converted the third-down attempt but was forcefully driven into the ground by a Miner defender.
“No,” Shead said with a laugh when asked if he's concerned about Bell being injured.
“Blake it very big, strong and powerful.”