Oklahoma Football: Why Backup QB Development Is Huge for Bob Stoops in 2012

Alex JosephAnalyst IMay 29, 2012

WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 19: Blake Bell #10 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks on during a game against the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Waco, Texas. The Baylor Bears defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 45-38.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

OK, I'm just going to say it—backup quarterback is a really underrated position in terms of importance to a team's success. 

While being a backup quarterback isn't the most glamorous title in the world, the responsibility that comes with it is immeasurable amongst the rest of the backup positions. 

If the backup quarterback is thrown into a game cold turkey, either due to injury or lack of success from the starter, the pressure to succeed comes barreling down on their shoulders at an alarming rate. The backup quarterback has to be poised and calm, yet aggressive and confident all at the same time.

How do backup quarterbacks attain these traits? Practice and development. For the Oklahoma Sooners, the development of the backup quarterbacks on their roster is huge for the upcoming season.

After Landry Jones decided he wasn't quite ready to give up his starting job and announced his return for his senior season, it was almost like Sooner fans didn't know how to react. Jones, who will be starting for his fourth consecutive season, brings little mystery to the offense—fans know exactly what they're going to get.

Jones is an above-average passer who gets rattled under pressure and has trouble making accurate throws down the field. That's exactly the type of quarterback he's proved to be his previous three seasons, so it's now on him to fix his bad habits and become, without a doubt, one of the best quarterbacks in college football.

The Sooners could be in a lot worse shape than having Jones as their starting quarterback, though. In fact, I'd say they're in really good shape considering he's bringing three years of experience to the position. 

So why is backup quarterback development huge for the Sooners if they're returning an experienced starter? The answer is simple—nobody else has real experience.

Sophomore Blake Bell saw the field plenty last season in the "Belldozer" package, but he was primarily used as a running back—he only threw the ball four times.

Junior Drew Allen, the Sooners' official backup quarterback last season, only made 16 pass attempts after filling in for Jones in blowouts. 

If Jones were to get injured, the Sooners would be starting an inexperienced quarterback, thus likely creating another havoc-filled season full of shattered hopes and dreams. Still, I'm confident in both Allen and Bell's developmental progression they've shown throughout their time at Oklahoma. 

Would either be better than Jones if they were awarded the starting job? Not likely—that's why Jones remains the starter. However, due to the amount of time they've both spent (especially Allen) backing up Jones in practice, learning the playbook, etc., the Sooners are in a better position than most teams when it comes to potentially having to play backups. 

Aside from the possibility of Jones getting injured, the development process of the backup quarterback is still huge for the Sooners this year if only due to the fact that one of them will for sure be the starting quarterback next season. 

Allen and Bell will continue their competition to be Jones' primary backup this season throughout the summer, and they'll remain in competition until one of them is named starting quarterback next season. 

The Sooners also need to see development out of redshirt freshman quarterback Kendall Thompson, who will likely be competing for a starting job down the road in his career at Oklahoma. However, with the announcement of Cody Thomas committing to the Sooners, the road to stardom may be tougher for Thompson than once hoped. 

Regardless, the Sooners are in a great position with their backup quarterbacks, even if they are inexperienced. Their continuing development should produce a starting quarterback next season that's ready to succeed.