In one start, Blake Bell did his best to end the Oklahoma Sooners' quarterback controversy.
The junior had lost the preseason fight for the starting job when freshman Trevor Knight was put at the top of the depth chart in Week 1. However, a bruised knee kept Knight out of the game against Tulsa in Week 3, giving Bell the chance to start for the first time.
Fortunately for the Sooners, he more than took advantage of the opportunity. Bell completed 27 of 37 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns while leading his squad to a 51-20 win over Tulsa.
As the team's Twitter account points out, this is a new school record:
MOST passing yards in 1st career start for an OU Quarterback - 374 for Blake Bell TODAY! Sam Bradford had 363 vs. N. Texas (9/1/07)— Oklahoma Football (@OU_Football) September 14, 2013
Bell made crisp, accurate throws and even showed off some scrambling ability.
Who should start at quarterback for Oklahoma?
While Tulsa's defense has not exactly been the best in the nation, the unit has actually been effective at defending the pass. Colorado State's Garrett Grayson only went 12-of-29 for 108 yards in Week 2, while Bowling Green's quarterbacks combined to go 12-of-28 for 163 yards in Week 1.
The defensive backs had been making quality plays on the ball, but Bell was able to avoid defenders to find his targets for big gains throughout the day.
This efficiency is something that Oklahoma had lacked in the first two games with Knight at the helm. While he showed plenty of excitement with his running ability, he only completed 43 percent of his passes in the first two games for an average of 4.27 yards per attempt.
Knight also threw three interceptions in the first two games compared to only four touchdowns. Considering William & Mary scored more points against West Virginia (17) than the Sooners (16), it is clear things were not going well.
An athlete should never lose his job due to injury, but it may be Knight showed on the field that would make him lose his job. Bell was simply more impressive in his first opportunity.
David Ubben of Fox Sports 1 agreed with this sentiment:
Best ball we've seen from a Sooner QB all season. What a rainbow from Blake Bell.— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 14, 2013
Oklahoma's next game comes against a tough, experienced defense in Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are especially strong on the defensive line, and running the ball will be extremely difficult for the Sooners.
In order for the team to win, it will need strong and efficient play from the quarterback. Even if Knight is healthy, it is hard to trust him to provide that.
Although Bell lacks game experience, he has spent a lot of time in this program and clearly has a good handle on the playbook. He also appears to have good chemistry with the receivers, as he made perfect connections throughout the game.
These are things that Oklahoma needs as it looks to compete for a Big 12 title and possibly more this season.
The Sooners are not a team that rebuilds; they are usually in competition for titles every season. They should not be planning for the future by letting a freshman learn from his mistakes. Knight might be a great prospect in the next few years, but he is not ready for the big time just yet.
Bell showed in his first start that he gives Oklahoma the best chance to win. This is all that should matter as he looks to remain in this spot for the remainder of the season.
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