TEMPE, AZ - DECEMBER 30: Quarterback Blake Bell #10 of the Oklahoma Sooners scores on a 4 yard rushing touchdown against the Iowa Hawkeyes during the first quarter of the Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium on December 30, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The running game of Oklahoma has lacked a power back for several years now. In an attempt to gain yardage on the short downs, the Sooners saw a major drop off in production. That was until the implementation of Blake Bell in the "Belldozer" Formation. There seemed to be a new hope specifically in the Redzone as Bob Stoops had finally found an answer to the woes of the fans. Now, here we sit, a year later. All the hype surrounding Bell has returned heading into the 2012 season and Dominique Whaley should be at full strength. This could be a formidable force on the ground. While I am a big fan of the formation along with the news that wrinkles that will be thrown in this season, I decided to take a look at the numbers. Quite frankly, I was surprised at the findings and have begun to question if this is the solution at all.
|Date||Opponent||Surface||Result||3rd Down Attempts||3rd Down Conversions||Conversion %|
|09/17/11||@ 23 Florida St.||Grass||W 23-13||12||4||33.33|
|10/01/11||Ball St.||Grass||W 62-6||12||5||41.67|
|10/08/11||+ Texas||Grass||W 55-17||15||8||53.33|
|10/15/11||@ Kansas||Turf||W 47-17||16||7||43.75|
|10/22/11||Texas Tech||Grass||L 38-41||17||5||29.41|
|10/29/11||@ 15 Kansas St.||Turf||W 58-17||10||7||70.00|
|11/05/11||Texas A&M||Grass||W 41-25||21||9||42.86|
|11/19/11||@ 13 Baylor||Turf||L 38-45||14||6||42.86|
|11/26/11||Iowa St.||Grass||W 26-6||19||6||31.58|
|12/03/11||@ 3 Oklahoma St.||Turf||L 10-44||15||4||26.67|
|12/30/11||+ Iowa||Grass||W 31-14||12||4||33.33|
|@ : Away, + : Neutral Site|
It is clear that the most successful 3rd down conversion game came with the installment of the "Belldozer" against the Kansas St. Wildcats. After the conclusion of that game, the Sooners never acheived the same level of success. But, it does not paint the entire picture as some of those third down attempts following the Kansas St. game were taken by Landry Jones or one of the running backs. In order for us to see exactly what Blake Bell was capable of when following Trey Millard and Aaron Ripkowsi through the hole, these other attempts need to be stripped away.
Oklahoma recorded 194 total attempts at converting the 3rd down with 55 coming by way of the ground. But the more critical stat we are looking for comes down to how many of those rushing attempts were taken on 3rd and short (1-3 yards)? That number significantly drops to only 37 attempts on the season.
Now, we know Bell did not take all the snaps as he was not a factor in the early going. So exactly how many of those snaps went to Bell? Out of the total 37 total attempts, only 14 were carried by Bell in a 3rd and short situation. On those 14 attempts, the Belldozer successfully converted on the play 7 times giving him a 50% success rate.
Overall, how did Oklahoma stack up against the conference in this situational stat line?
|1st: First Downs; 10+: Rush attempts of 10 or more yards|
The bottom of the barrel is not where I expected to find the Sooners. However, that is precisely where they landed. It gives validation to the concerns but I am beginning to question if Belldozer is the answer at the 50% mentioned above. In order to compete with the top defenses in the nation, this number must increase while the tough yards are what is going to keep a drive alive.
On the flip side, the redeeming factor was 4th down for the Belldozer which tallied up 61 total yards on 5 attempts giving him an average of 12.20 yards per carry...all of which converted the first down.