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OU's Blake Bell shows significant progress, might back up Landry Jones

BY MIKE BALDWIN, Staff Writer, mbaldwin@opubco.com Modified: August 25, 2011 at 5:43 pm •  Published: August 25, 2011
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NORMAN — Blake Bell signing with Oklahoma was more ballyhooed than Sam Bradford or Jason White, two in-state kids who would win the Heisman.

Before Bell arrived on campus expectations were high. Extremely high.

Big, athletic, mobile with a cannon arm, Bell was ranked as one of the nation's top quarterbacks in the 2010 class.

But like most freshmen quarterbacks, Bell needed time to learn the nuances of playing in a highly sophisticated, up-tempo offense.

"In high school you're just slinging it around," Bell said. "It's a lot easier sitting at home watching the game on the couch. You knew coming in that it wouldn't be a walk in the park, that you would have to work for it."

Landry Jones, a Heisman candidate this season, can relate to everything Bell has experienced. Redshirting isn't easy. Waiting your turn isn't easy.

“You come in as a hotshot. You get thrown into the fire, and you honestly don't know how to play anymore,” Jones said. “It seems like your mind locks up. You forget how to throw the ball. A lot of young quarterbacks can get overwhelmed. Blake has come a long way.”

Has Bell come so far he will be Jones' backup this season?

OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel will decide this weekend who will be the backup — Bell or Drew Allen.

It's a big decision. The player Heupel chooses will be the leading candidate to start next season if Jones opts to leave for the NFL.

Allen, a sophomore, has a year's more experience and was Jones' backup last season.

Bell, a redshirt freshman, produced mixed results in the spring game. He has shown vast improvement during two-a-days. Heupel said that's typical.

“Whenever I get a kid that's a true freshman, after his first spring he's remarkably different when you get him back for fall camp,” Heupel said. “He's had a chance to make mistakes, watch them, learn from them, rehashing those things all summer on film. They're more confident, more assertive.”

Countless hours watching film and countless sessions with wide receivers the past four months helped Bell take a major leap forward during two-a-days.

"We did a lot of throwing in June and July, almost every day with the receivers," Bell said. "After you throw so much it becomes a habit. My ball is coming out a lot nicer. And film work. Knowing when you're hot (facing a blitz), where people are coming from, helps a lot.”

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