NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma fans should finally get a definitive answer about Blake Bell's arm.
The Sooners junior quarterback will earn his first start at quarterback against Tulsa at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium today (ESPN2, noon ET) and will have the chance to prove his passing ability amid questions about his ability to run OU's offense. Redshirt freshman Trevor Knight beat out Bell to become the Sooners’ starter at the beginning of the season but injured his knee during OU’s 16-7 win over West Virginia on Sept. 7 and is expected to miss the game opening the door for Bell to start.
Questions about Bell’s ability to throw arose after the Kansas native carved himself a role as the Sooners’ short-yardage specialist and was dubbed the “Belldozer” as a redshirt freshman in 2011. He excelled in the role, rushing for 24 touchdowns but completed just 10 of 20 pass attempts in two seasons behind Landry Jones.
Expect the Golden Hurricane to force Bell to beat them. With the Sooners averaging 310.5 rushing yards per game, Tulsa is unlikely to sit back and allow OU to put the game on the shoulders of running backs Brennan Clay, Damien Williams and Roy Finch. TU will probably load the box and dare the Sooners, and Bell, to beat them through the air.
Bell enters the game having completed 3 of 6 pass attempts for 38 yards and with four carries for 31 yards in OU’s first two games. He saw mop-up duty in the Sooners' 34-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe before replacing Knight in the fourth quarter of OU’s win over WVU. While the Golden Hurricane will come out with an eye on stopping the Sooners’ running attack, don’t expect OU’s offense to change with Bell under center.
“They’re pretty much the same,” coach Bob Stoops said. “They all can run, they all can throw, and they’re all athletic. There isn’t much of a difference between them as far as their skill set and what they can do.”