Forty-four rushing attempts, 171 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. Sounds like a fullback that only gets the ball within the 5-yard line, right? To anybody who hasn't been familiar with Oklahoma Sooner football, that would be the most logical explanation.
However, for those who witnessed the resurgence of the Sooners' red-zone efficiency late last season, those numbers can only belong to one person.
If you haven't been formerly introduced, please allow me to present to you sophomore quarterback Blake Bell—the Belldozer.
Why is he called the "Belldozer," you ask? Not only is it a catchy play on words, but Bell embodies the characteristics of how a bulldozer would play football—you know, if bulldozers had opposable thumbs and other necessary human-like qualities that made playing football an actuality rather than mere personification.
Bell is a 6'5", 245-pound mammoth of a man who just so happens to play quarterback for the Sooners. When head coach Bob Stoops introduced the "Belldozer" package to alleviate the Sooners' red-zone difficulties, I'm not sure he even realized what he was unleashing onto opposing defenses.
When Bell carries the ball, he doesn't even try to juke defenders or break the play to the outside—he runs right through the line and through any foe who stands in his way. The numbers don't lie. There was a reason Bell scored the most rushing touchdowns by a Sooner last season.
For every three (rounding down from 3.38) rush attempts Bell made last season, he scored a touchdown. That's efficiency at it's finest, and while I would be foolish to doubt Bell's ability to power through defenders for another season, I can't help but be a little skeptic about the Belldozer package working at such a high rate again.
When the package was first introduced, I admittedly hated it. I was frustrated that a team with a reputation of the Sooners—and not to mention all the offensive firepower—was reduced to using an overly-gimmicky quarterback draw in order to score touchdowns.
However, while I still find the package too gimmicky, I'm willing to accept it. It's hard to argue a touchdown machine that helps a team win games, but how long is it going to take for defenses to devise a plan to stop it?
I'm not sure the Sooners will be able to use the Belldozer package as often next season, and if they do, they have to add more variation to it other than just giving the ball to Bell and letting him run up the middle. The question remains, though, is it even possible to add another dimension?
The obvious inclusion should be letting Bell pass the ball sometimes, but, once again, the numbers don't lie. Bell only threw the ball four times last season, completing one pass for eight yards. He also threw an interception. Unless Bell has put in some serious time on his throwing ability, the Belldozer package may have to remain simplified.
While the backup quarterback battle will likely remain in effect until the end of spring practice, junior quarterback Drew Allen is expected to be senior Landry Jones' primary backup once again. That leaves Bell third on the depth chart for another season.
For someone who is as athletically gifted as Bell, you have to find time to get him on the field. That's what the Belldozer package was for last season, but if my assumptions are true for this season and the package doesn't work as well, where does Bell fit in?
Will Blake Bell ever be the starting quarterback at OU?
Rumor has it he's been taking some snaps at tight end during spring practice due to the Sooners' lack of depth at the position, and that's a really interesting idea to think about. Bell's size would make the transition to part-time tight end easy, and he would be a matchup nightmare for any linebacker or safety who tries to cover him.
With that being said, you never want your backup quarterback to run the risk of getting injured, but if he's going to be stuck three deep on the depth chart, why not experiment a little? The more Bell is on the field, the more challenging the Sooners' offense becomes to defend.
The question then becomes: Is this the future of Bell's playing time at OU? Will he ever be a starting quarterback, or will he forever be subjected as the focal point of numerous gimmicky offensive packages?
If I'm Bell, I obviously enjoy the exposure I'm getting, but if I'm never given the chance to prove my worth as a quarterback, how is that going to affect my future? I have the size and intangibles most NFL scouts would drool over. Should I transfer to a school that will allow me to start?
That's an option nobody is talking about. While Bell appears to be happy and enjoying the spotlight at the moment, how is he going to feel next year as a junior when he's forced to be Allen's backup? What if the Sooners snag up Max Browne, 2013's best quarterback prospect? What if Browne as a sophomore beats out Bell as a senior for the starting job?
I suppose we can't look that far ahead, because none of us really knows how Bell is feeling. Bell has only been allowed to give one interview since the Belldozer package was released, and that's after he was the MVP of the Insight Bowl.
All I want to know is how Bell is going to fit into the Sooners' future plans. I'm sure this upcoming season will tell us a lot, and I'm sure we're going to see the Belldozer package anytime the Sooners are close to the goal line again.
Let's just hope it's as efficient as it was last year. Otherwise, things could get very interesting.