The Norman Transcript

September 10, 2013

Next two weeks critical time for Bell, Sooners

By Clay Horning
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma football’s entering a critical couple of weeks. Also, Bob Stoops is being coy.

What’s new?

I know what you’re saying. You’re saying he’s never coy. Kidding, you couldn’t possibly be saying that.

No, you’re saying the next two weeks are nothing — Tulsa at home followed by a chance to sit back and watch everybody else play? 

What’s the big deal?

What happens in weeks three, four and five, at Notre Dame, against TCU, followed by Texas at the Cotton Bowl those will be the critical weeks for OU.

Maybe, but look at it this way. When do you think that OU will put themselves in the position to go run that three-week table?

That would be now, and next week, before heading to South Bend.

Consider the opportunity.

Begin with Blake Bell.

Stoops would have us believe that he didn’t’ have to make a quarterback decision, that the trainers made it for him, and maybe they did.

Maybe, without Trevor Knight’s tweaked knee, Stoops would have stewed all week choosing between his two quarterbacks, or even three now that Kendal Thompson has returned to practice..

It doesn’t matter.

What matters now is Stoops, the Sooner Nation and everybody in uniform should hope Bell never gives the job back, because that will mean only good things for OU.

In the best possible world, Bell steps in and plays well against Tulsa and only gets better in the off week. If Knight returns healthy in time for Notre Dame, terrific, but Bell will stay put. 

In a game that can make or break your season, Stoops will go with the guy who’s playing well right now.

It’s also an opportunity for offensive coordinator Josh Heupel and the rest of the offensive staff.

In Tulsa, OU has an opponent it should blow off the field. The Golden Hurricane may still be the best Conference USA has to offer, but shouldn’t be in the Sooners’ league.

That means, between right now and Saturday would be a fabulous time to really figure out what it is you want to do offensively.

I tried to get Stoops to commit Tuesday to his most productive back, Brennan Clay, being his feature back. Of course he wouldn’t.

“Yeah,” he said, the Sooners have a feature back. “Brennan Clay, Damien Williams, Roy Finch and Trey Millard. Call it what you want to. I’m calling it we rushed for 300 yards.”

Of course, the issue isn’t whether everybody plays, it’s that Clay’s averaging 7.1 yards per attempt, but Williams, at 4.4, has carried the ball seven more times.

But the past’s the past. 

What’s important now is the Sooners have a chance to figure everything out.

If Clay’s the man, treat him like the man. Don’t pull him in the second half of a third quarter he’s already dominating. 

If Millard needs more touches, give them to him. If he doesn’t, don’t. Just come to an understanding.

It’s a funny thing, but Knight’s knee injury may end up being a great thing for this team this season, and a great thing for Knight down the line.

It means the more experienced quarterback has a chance to grab the job and play well heading into a momentous stretch. 

It also means the guy who the coaches clearly have tons of confidence in, Knight, doesn’t have to process losing the job on the (de)merits, but on an injury, which shouldn’t bother him too much. It also means, next time around, whether it’s next month or his redshirt junior season, he’ll be better equipped to handle the pressure of being OU’s starting quarterback.

Pretty much, you can spin anything this team’s going through in a positive direction, because that’s what you get to do when your defense gives up only seven points in two games.

All things are possible.

So the Sooners have Tulsa and some time on their hands.

Make use of it and everything should only get better.

These are heady days.

Clay Horning

Follow me @clayhorning