Early slate will reveal much about Blake Bell

June, 24, 2013
6/24/13
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NORMAN, Okla. -- It didn’t take long in 2007 for Sam Bradford to solidify his starting quarterback status.

In the opener against North Texas, Bradford tied the school record for consecutive completions and broke the record for passing yards in a half. After a five-touchdown performance Week 2 against Miami, the Sooners knew they had their quarterback.

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
Tim Heitman/US PRESSWIREBlake Bell and the Sooners face a tough early schedule in 2013.
It’s unlikely Blake Bell will have that kind of debut as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback. Still, it shouldn’t take long this time either for OU to determine if Bell is its quarterback of the future. Against the current of a brutal six-game start to the schedule, Bell will either swim and solidify the job -- as Bradford did -- or he will sink and open the way for Kendal Thompson or Trevor Knight to get their shot.

Last week during a caravan stop in Wichita, coach Bob Stoops reiterated he’s in no hurry to name a starting quarterback. Thompson and Knight both have talent. Despite his offseason dustup with police, Thompson remains one of the hardest workers on the team. He also has displayed a great feel for escaping trouble in the pocket and making plays downfield. Knight is an athletic freak who has the potential to be prolific as a dual threat. By several accounts, both Thompson and Knight have been sharp during 7-on-7 workouts so far this summer.

But given his seniority, his relative understanding of the offense, his experience on the field and the way he closed out the spring in the Red-White game, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Bell isn’t ultimately named the starter for the opener. Whether he’s able to hold the job will be another storyline.

All of the Sooners’ first six opponents are coming off bowl appearances. Yes, OU will be heavy home favorites in the first three games against Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia and Tulsa. But the second trio of games -- at Notre Dame, TCU and Texas -- figures to be the defining stretch of the season. For Bell, especially.

The Irish lost quarterback Everett Golson during the offseason. But they should have another formidable defense, headlined by perhaps the best defensive line in college football. The game is also in South Bend, Ind., where Notre Dame has won 10 of 11.

After facing one of the top defenses in the country, the Sooners will see what should be the best defense in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs feature two defensive All-American candidates in end Devonte Fields and cornerback Jason Verrett.

And following all of that, the Sooners will still have the Red River Rivalry, which has both vindicated and vanquished many quarterbacks over the years.

By that point, the Sooners will know a lot about Bell. Including whether he’s their guy going forward.

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