Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell will start in the Sooners' next game (Sept. 28 at Notre Dame), head coach Bob Stoops said after a win on Saturday.
It was obvious the coaching staff was leaning in the redshirt junior's direction during his first career start. Bell, replacing injured redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, played the entire game in a 51-20 pummeling of Tulsa on Saturday, as the Sooners clearly intended to get him a full game of action before the trip to South Bend, Ind.
Previously known for his punishing running in short-yardage and goal-line situations, Bell was 27-of-37 passing for 413 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. The Sooners had only 243 passing yards total and three interceptions in their first two games.
Showing much greater timing and accuracy that Knight, Bell allowed his wide receivers and running backs to rack up yards after the catch. Jaz Reynolds had an 84-yard catch-and-run, and running back Roy Finch scored on a screen pass that he took 29 yards into the end zone. Those plays had been lacking with Knight directing the offense.
"A lot of those swing screens and those kinds of things, if they're not put on the money and they're not timed properly, they don't execute," Stoops said. "(Bell) put the ball where it needed to be to get the maximum yards on a lot of those plays, and those add up."
Even with the possibility Knight could return this week from the knee injury that sidelined him against the Golden Hurricane, Stoops emphatically backed Bell.
"So much for your controversy right now," Stoops joked. "It didn't last long, but you can't deny what he just went out there and did."
Now the degree of difficulty goes up dramatically against the Fighting Irish and through the rest of the Big 12 schedule, but a competent passing offense directed by Bell paired with a solid run game and dramatically improved defensive front seven would put Oklahoma back into the mix for a BCS bowl.