Oklahoma Football: Is the Belldozer Formation a Long-Term Solution?
In 2010, the Oklahoma Sooners didn't have a scoring problem (scored 82 percent of the time in the red zone) as much as they had a short-yardage problem.
The words "3rd-and-short" or "3rd-and-goal" made Sooner nation cringe. Landry Jones would inevitably hand the ball off up the middle, only to get stuffed and send out the special teams unit.
The coaching staff heard the moans but were confident in emerging running back Dominique Whaley's ability to be a power back and grab those all-important short-yardage first downs heading into 2011.
After Whaley went down with an injury last season against Kansas State, Bob Stoops was forced to come up with a new formation in a hurry. With their power back out for the year, the alternatives were scarce.
Stoops and crew tossed around the idea of implementing a Wildcat formation with Blake Bell lining up at quarterback, but who knew how it would work against the top defenses in the conference?
The Sooners ended up finding wild success with the newly dubbed Belldozer formation. Bell barreled over opponents en route to a team-high 13 touchdowns on the year.
The Belldozer formation quickly caught on with fans, and they began calling for it more and more. Bell was rarely stopped when brought in, and the coaching staff appeared to have struck gold.
Stoops stuck with it for the remainder of the year and seemingly cured his short-yardage situation nightmares.
Is the Belldozer formation a long-term solution?
But is this a long-term solution to short-yardage problems?
Back in 2008, the Miami Dolphins instituted a similar Wildcat formation, lining up either running back Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams to take the snaps out of a modified shotgun formation. Defenses were puzzled on how to defend it, and the Wildcat bred vast amounts of success for the Dolphins.
The problem was, once defenses had time to game-plan for the formation, it was rarely as effective. If you look across the NFL landscape now, you may see a Wildcat formation rear its head from time to time, but the instant success the Dolphins had back in 2008 is nowhere to be found.
Will the Sooners see a similar decline in the Belldozer formation?
One advantage they will have is that opposing defenses will now be forced to prepare for the Belldozer formation whether or not Stoops decides to use it against them. Preparation time is crucial on a weekly basis in college football, and time spent preparing for the Belldozer is time stolen away from preparing for the Sooners' regular, uptempo offense.
It's hard to imagine Stoops not bringing back the Belldozer formation after the success it had in 2011, but I can't help but wonder if it will be anywhere near as effective with defenses having much more time and game film to prepare.
Do the Stoops brothers have any new tricks up their sleeve ready to unleash in 2012?
September 1 can't come soon enough.
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