Oklahoma Football: 5 Ways Offense Will Change with Blake Bell at QB
It hasn't been determined, but now that the Landry Jones era has reached its end, Blake Bell will likely be called upon to man the reins as the Oklahoma Sooners' starting quarterback.
Bell isn't the prototypical Sooners quarterback. He brings something to the table that Josh Heupel, Sam Bradford and Landry Jones didn't: mobility.
Jason White showed flashes of it before tearing up both of his knees. Rhett Bomar wowed us with his legs as well before Stoops booted him for off-the-field issues.
Most offensive coordinators build their offenses around the abilities of their starting quarterback. However, Heupel, now Oklahoma's offensive coordinator, has yet to work with a player with Bell's skill set. Things have to be changed in order to mold the plays around Bell.
Heupel will surely stick with his roots and keep the offense running from the shotgun, but with Bell at quarterback, it could be a run-first attack.
Here are five ways Heupel's offense could change with Bell as the new signal-caller.
A Run-First Mentality
Bell is no Heupel, White, Bradford or Jones.
He's more like Bomar and Paul Thompson or even White pre-injury. He forces defenses to respect his running ability, which could lead to an offensive face lift for the Sooners in 2013.
Picture Bell running an option-style offense with Damien Williams and Brennan Clay in the backfield, not to mention Trey Millard, one of the nation's best fullbacks. It may not be the way Oklahoma's offense has conducted business under Bob Stoops, but it could spell success in 2013.
ESPN.com's SoonerNation blogger Jake Trotter explains Bell's mobility will give the Sooners an element they haven't had in years.
The Sooners must build their offense around their quarterback, and with Bell behind center, look for a run-first mentality in Norman next season. They should have an experienced offensive line and a group that's already been schooled with the "Belldozer" formation.
More Screen Passes for Saunders and Shepard
Oklahoma lost its deep-threat wide receivers with the departure of Kenny Stills and Justin Brown.
SoonerNation reporter Brandon Chatmon explained the combination of Stills, Brown, Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard were quickly becoming the Big 12's scariest group after their win over Oklahoma State.
However, Stills is leaving early for the NFL draft, and Brown just finished up his senior campaign after transferring from Penn State.
This leaves Blake Bell with little to work with deep down the field. However, it also opens up opportunities in the screen game for Saunders and Shepard.
Saunders turned into Landry Jones' go-to guy in the second half of the season and Shepard showed flashes of great play all throughout his freshman campaign. Each player's skill set could give Oklahoma big-play potential through screen passes on the wide side of the field.
Chip Kelly uses the wide side of the field with Oregon's offense. Bell won't exactly be able to produce Oregon-type speed, but the screen game should be similar with their duo of talented slot receivers. Not to mention, Oklahoma should return an experienced offensive line led by All-Big 12 performer Gabe Ikard.
Look for Josh Heupel and the Sooners to adjust to Bell's abilities and use Saunders' and Shepard's skill sets in the screen game next season.
More Touches for Damien Williams and Brennan Clay
Damien Williams and Brennan Clay combined for more than 1,500 yards in 2012 with Blake Bell racking up another 222 yards.
I've already touched on the fact Oklahoma could have more of a run-first mentality next season. This could obviously lead to more touches for Williams and Clay, who've each already made their presence felt in the Sooners' backfield.
Williams proved he's the main focus at running back with 1,006 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012. He's not a ground-and-pound runner by any means, but he's also not afraid to drop his shoulders and run a defender over. Clay is nearly the same type of back, just with less quickness. He's more of a straightforward runner, which makes them a dangerous combination.
If Oklahoma goes to an option-read offense, it will definitely benefit their two star running backs. They will not only benefit from more opportunities, but also from defenses respecting Bell's abilities. Williams' and Clay's numbers should increase if Heupel and Bell take the offense in a new direction.
A Slower Pace
Under Bob Stoops the Sooners have made a name for themselves with an up-tempo style of play. They are always ranked near the top of college football in total plays, and it has led to explosive offenses year after year.
However, this year could be different.
With Blake Bell at quarterback, the Sooners will likely slow down their attack. They're built to run rather than pass now with a Big 12-leading duo at running back and a bruising runner as the signal caller.
With Sam Bradford, Jason White and Landry Jones, the offense was built around their abilities to make snap decisions and deliver accurate passes. They were able to dominate in plays from scrimmage, but it didn't always lead to dominating time of possession.
Oklahoma now has a new arsenal, and it seems geared towards controlling the ball rather than controlling the pass game. If they slow the game down, Bell, Damien Williams, Brennan Clay and the Sooners' offensive should provide enough power to be one of college football's most dominating rushing attacks going into 2013.
Let's face it: We can't get enough "Belldozer" as Oklahoma fans.
It's become Bell's thing. He's obviously not the gunslinger Jones and the rest of Oklahoma's quarterbacks were. He's got his own little niche, which we will likely see more of in 2013.
If he's going to start, he's probably going to run his own play more often. Josh Heupel could even develop it into more than just a short-yardage package. Surely they can use his skills in play action or with an read option-style offense more based around the run game.
Although the Sooners will have to change the way they move up and down the field, it's not such a bad thing. They will be able to control the clock with more efficiency, and it could lead to less game-breaking mistakes.
Look for more "Belldozer" in 2013. What could be better than that?