NORMAN — There isn’t a player in Oklahoma’s locker room with broader shoulders than Blake Bell. It’s good because the Sooner quarterback is likely going to feel like the weight of the world is spread across them Saturday afternoon.
Quarterbacks have to deal with that kind of pressure on a game-by-game basis, but it’s magnified when his team goes on the road.
If Bell’s feeling the heat, he’s masked it like a poker ace. He says the rookie nerves were silenced long ago. He got them out of the way running the “Belldozer” package the previous two seasons.
“I think being out there last year in some big situations — Notre Dame and Okie State and stuff like that — you feel a little bit of a presence back there,” he said. “Obviously, I’m not dropping back and throwing last year. Still, being in those big-game situations, it helps out a little bit.”
Saturday, however, will be different. He’s no longer the guy coming in to spark the offense and close out a drive. He’ll be under the gun from the opening snap. Many OU quarterbacks — and some really good ones at that — struggled the first time they went on the road for the their first big game.
Landry Jones’ initial road start was against Miami of Fla., in 2009. He was 18-for-30 for 188 yards and a touchdown pass, but OU tried its best to keep Jones of harm’s way in that game. The Sooners ran the ball 42 times and were only 5 for 15 converting third downs in a 21-20 loss.
Sam Bradford put up big numbers in his first road start (16 for 22 for 244 yards and three touchdowns in a 62-21 victory over Tulsa in 2007). But the first time OU left the state with Bradford under center, didn’t turn out so well. Bradford was just 8 for 19 for 112 yards and two interceptions in a 27-24 loss at Colorado.