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Oklahoma Football: Blake Bell Has Earned Starting QB Job Going Forward

Ben KerchevalCollege Football Lead WriterSeptember 28, 2013

Whether Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops agrees with that assessment or not remains to be seen. But after watching Blake Bell put up good numbers in a 35-21 win against Notre Dame on Saturday, it's tough not to view him as the Sooners' starting quarterback going forward. 

I didn't think that redshirt freshman Trevor Knight had injured himself out of a starting job a couple of weeks ago when he hurt his knee in a win over West Virginia. But after watching Bell pick apart defenses two weeks in a row, that view has changed.

Bell's numbers have been good. Against the Irish Saturday, the redshirt junior was 22-of-30 for 232 yards and a pair of scores while picking up another 59 yards on the ground. That, after setting an OU record for most passing yards (413) in a first career start against Tulsa two weeks ago. 

What really sets Bell apart, though, is his poise and decision-making. 

When you're comparing it to a quarterback like Knight who has appeared in just two college games, well, there is no comparison right now. OU's offense runs so much better with Bell behind center. It's been more balanced, too. 

That's not to say that Knight shouldn't be part of Oklahoma's game plan. When Bell left briefly in the second half to receive treatment for what looked like cramps, Knight filled in well on one drive. His first play was a 30-yard run on a read-option. 

Bell is big, physical and tough to bring down, but he doesn't have anywhere near the shiftiness that Knight has. And coming in with fresh legs like that is going to make Knight hard to stop if he gets to the second level of the defense. 

There's definitely a time and place for that. The question is whether Knight could do more. Knight began the season as the starter and looked promising in a Week 1 win over Louisiana-Monroe. But in Week 2, Knight took a few steps back. Yes, he was injured, yes West Virginia's defense looks to be among the better units in the Big 12, but he didn't look comfortable passing the ball at all. 

It was noticeable Saturday that OU's play-calling changed significantly once Knight was in the game. It featured more option and only one pass attempt. The playbook feels limited with Knight in the game. 

Saturday's win by Oklahoma, which was the first for the Sooners over the Irish since 1956, was the best nonconference win for a Big 12 team this season, and Bell played great in the process. 

Things are only going to get tougher as the season progresses and conference play starts up. Oklahoma has key games on the road late in the year against Baylor and Oklahoma State. If Stoops had to choose a quarterback to navigate through that schedule, my guess is he'd want the one who just won big on the road. 

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