Following Blake Bell's record setting performance against Tulsa on Saturday, whatever debate there may have been about Oklahoma's starting quarterback can certainly now be put to rest. But the question many an OU fan, and even the media who cover the team, were asking even before Saturday's game reached its conclusion was how exactly Bell was ever the backup to begin with.
We have some theories.
Turns Out Blake Bell Can Throw The Ball Afterall
Remember all those OU fan armchair quarterbacks who openly questioned whether or not Bell could throw the ball? You know, the same people openly questioning a coaching staff who had produced two Heisman winners at the quarterback position, a national champion, and the program's all-time leading passer. The same people who seemed to believe said coaching staff chose to recruit and then sign a quarterback who would not be capable of running their offense. Yeah, those people.
Well wouldn't you know it, they actually didn't know what they were talking about.
Admittedly, that's not really a theory so much as an opportunity to point and laugh at those people that we simply couldn't pass up. Thank you for indulging us.
Blake Bell Is A "Gamer"
It's a cliche, and a bad one, for a reason but that does not necessarily mean it lacks a certain degree of truth at the same time. Some players show up when the lights come on while some shrink away from the spotlight. It's something you are going to hear ad nauseam over the next two weeks if you plan on spending any time listening to Oklahoma sports talk radio.
Now understand that is not meant to suggest that Trevor Knight is a player who is scared of the spotlight, making any kind of blanket assumptions after just seven quarters worth of experience would be foolish at best.
However, watching Bell on Saturday no one can deny how well the offense played and, more importantly, just how calm and in control Bell appeared to be.
Trevor Knight Still Has The Higher Ceiling, But Bell Provides The Best Chance To Win Now
This theory isn't overly complicated much like the first, but it eminates from what we heard coming out of fall practices prior to the start of the season. With the obvious but necessary caveat that virtually everything one hears is second or third-hand information, what we all heard was that a significant part of Knight initially winning the starter's job was his big play ability in practice.
And as we saw Saturday against Tulsa, while not a statue in the pocket Bell also isn't exactly a threat to rip off big run after big run. He was smart and efficient with his opportunites to run the ball on the rare instances in which he was unable to find an open receiver. Josh Heupel did not call many designed quarterback runs, which was a departure from his two previous game plans but also was likely a product of OU's opponent.
What he heard during fall practices was that Knight would make multiple long runs during a single practice that left the coaches and players alike in awe. You also would hear that Bell looked almost hesitant in his decision making to the point that some even described his play as trying not to lose the starting job rather than trying to win it. Knight was more aggressive, but also made more mistakes.
With Knight being initially being named the starter, it was obvious his big play ability outside the pocket played a significant role in the decision. The coaches that they might have the best of both worlds in a guy who could potentially pass similar to what we saw Saturday, while also turn a negative play into a positive with his athleticism and ability to scramble.
Unfortunately, Knight's struggles in the passing game were obvious and don't really need to be explained to anyone here. That said, if he can eventually develop into a more consistent passer and with his ability to make plays outside the pocket he does have a higher ceiling as a quarterback than Bell does. It was that same ceiling that the coaches envisioned when Knight was named the starter, but his play showed there is still some work to be done before he's capable of reaching it.
Whatever the reasons, be they those above or others entirely unrelated, it's essentially irrelevant at this point as Bell showed beyond a shadow of a doubt on Saturday he is Oklahoma's quarterback for the foreseeable future. He may not be as capable of the big plays outside the pocket that Trevor Knight is, as we said from the outset there is simply no denying he gives the Sooners the best chance to win now.
And in the 'what have you done for me lately' high pressure world of college football, winning now pretty much trumps everything else.