NORMAN — Landry Jones keeps a stiff upper lip about the Belldozer. Remains supportive and stoic about the offense that in some ways is an indictment of his abilities.
Jones' attitude is an act.
So says the one man on Earth who should know. The one man who has lived through what Landry has lived through with the Belldozer.
Thirty-five years ago, Lott, one of Barry Switzer's greatest optioneers, occasionally was sent to the sidelines so Dean Blevins could enter and toss a timely pass.
The 'Dozer in reverse. Blake Bell replaces Landry Jones to run the ball. Blevins replaced Lott to pass.
“To be quite honest, being a competitor, anybody who says it doesn't bother 'em, they're not being honest,” Lott said the other day.
“You always try to say the politically correct things. But it does bother you if they take you out. They're saying you can't do this certain thing. As a competitor, you feel like you can.”
The Sooners' inability to find the end zone on short-yardage situations fostered the implementation of the Belldozer. Then receiving star Ryan Broyles suffered a season-ending knee injury, and Jones' favorite target was gone. The Belldozer became even more valuable.
Switzer never turned to Blevins as often as Bob Stoops summoned Bell last autumn. But Blevins' relief passes produced some memorable OU moments. Nebraska 1976. Ohio State 1977.
And clearly, Bell is good at running the fifth-grade offense — hike the ball to the quarterback and let him run.
“When Blake Bell comes in, teams aren't ready for it,” Blevins said, even though defenses know what's coming. “Likewise, when I came in for Thomas.”
There is a major difference in the two relief-quarterback situations. Bell hasn't otherwise played any meaningful minutes. Blevins was the starting QB in 1976 before giving way to Lott.
Blevins said when he returned to the field, replacing Lott in passing situations, “A lot of my effort was out of anger” over losing the starting job. “Deep down inside, it really hurt.
“It eats at you. I don't care whether you're 22 or 56. It gnaws at you.”
But Blevins said it never affected his relationship with Lott or the team.
“It went pretty easy in terms of Thomas and me,” Blevins said. “You play a role. You're not just a backup quarterback waiting for a guy to get hurt.
“There was never one bit of friction. That's critical. You cannot have internal friction.
“Blake's different. He's looking forward to trying to win that job.”
No dissension appeared to plague the 2011 Sooners, thanks in part to Jones' professionalism. And there is no reason for the 2012 Sooners to develop friction. Jones clearly is the quarterback.
“When it comes to OU, it shouldn't be a problem,” Lott said. “Landry's the quarterback. Anybody even thinking about Bell as the starter needs to reconsider what they know about football.”
But that doesn't mean Jones is fine with being pulled when the Sooners face 3rd-and-2 or get near the goal line.
“I really didn't appreciate being on the sideline,” Lott said. “I wanted to help my team.
“As a competitor, you'd like to be able to do it all. But when you have special plays for people …
“That's never an ideal situation, when a guy has to be taken out for certain things. You just don't want it to turn into a distraction.”
It hasn't and it shouldn't for the Sooners. Thanks to the way Landry Jones acts, not the way he feels.
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.