LAWRENCE, Kan. — A little Blake Bell goes a long way, yes, but a little more Blake Bell would go a much longer way and if Oklahoma intends to win a conference championship or simply threaten to become the team it looked like it might become before rolling into the Cotton Bowl, the X-factor couldn’t be more clear.
Its the quarterback, stupid.
It’s a harsh reminder, yet required, because OU ran for 235 yards in Saturday afternoon’s 34-19 victory over Kansas and the margin’s not the margin without a blocked punt and a trick play that made for nine Sooner points in the space of 18 seconds, not to mention a two-point runback of a blocked PAT that may never happen again.
It’s pretty simple.
OU is playing vastly better defense this season and was terrific again Saturday once the first quarter ended, and even though it doesn’t seem like it all the time, the Sooners can run the ball like they haven’t in recent seasons, the victory over the Jayhawks being their fifth 200-plus yard rushing game in seven tries.
But if you’re looking for OU to look like OU again, like a team capable of owning the game against opponents better than Tulsa, it’s really on Bell.
It’s nothing new.
When Jason White was great, OU was great. When Sam Bradford was great, OU was great. When Landry Jones was great, OU was not quite great, yet still all it could be because the teams Jones’ quarterbacked were frustratingly more fragile than those of his predecessors.
Saturday, Bell completed 15 of 25 passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception and intentionally grounded once. Plain and simple, he wasn’t every good.
He was very good against Tulsa and very good against Notre Dame. Not so much since.