Oklahoma still hasn’t released a definitive depth chart, but the Sooners have a backup quarterback. Blake Bell will enter the season as Landry Jones’ understudy and will continue to work in the short-yardage package the Sooners developed for him last season.
Bell and junior Drew Allen have been competing for the No. 2 spot behind Jones since last season.
“Drew has done a really good job and made improvement, but I just felt Blake has been more consistent and is playing the way we need him to,” OU coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday.
Bell, a 6-foot-6, 254-pound sophomore, rushed for 13 touchdowns last season, running the “Belldozer” package. Of his 44 carries, 26 went for first downs or touchdowns. He’s only thrown four passes with one 8-yard completion and an interception. Allen is 18-for-30 as OU’s backup quarterback in 2010 and last season.
But Bell has grown as a pocket passer since last season.
“It’s been a constant. He’s constantly gotten better,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “But I think he felt a lot more comfortable … knowing what we were doing offensively and where he needed to go with the ball and he became better working through his progressions and it came easier for him and he’s gotten smarter and smarter.”
Obviously, Bell moving to No. 2 leaves Allen, a junior, in a tough spot. The decision likely makes Bell Jones’ successor next season. School has already started. If Allen wanted to transfer, because the fall semester has already begun, he would likely have to sit out the season following this one, before he could play at another FBS school. And that’s not likely to happen because it would make Allen, who has already redshirted, a sixth-year senior.
Heupel doesn’t believe that will be an issue.
“I knew that question would be coming. Obviously, it’s tough for him,” Heupel said. “But at the same time, guys that have stayed the course have had an opportunity come to them. Now you’ve got to be in position to make the most of it.”
Stoops confirms Okotcha departure: Redshirt freshman defensive back Bennett Okotcha is no longer with the program. Stoops did not go into detail about why Okotcha left.
“Let me talk about guys that are here,” Stoops said. “He hasn’t been here for a long time.”
Okotcha was a three-star recruit from Coppell (Texas) High School. He never played in a game.
Franks moves to safety: The Sooners did update their roster on Tuesday. One notable change was junior Trey Franks moving from wide receiver to safety. The move occurred last week. Whether it is permanent remains to be seen.
“We’re in experiment mode right now,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said “He’s a very athletic player. He’s very physical. He runs and is a very explosive player. There are possibilities.
“Is it natural? If you’ve got to coach him all the way around the field, it’s going to be a struggle. I don’t have a feel right now of how instinctive he is and how much I’m going to have to coach … Athletically, he can do whatever he wants. There are possibilities there.”
Franks is practicing with the team but is still serving a suspension along with wide receiver Jaz Reynolds and safety Quentin Hayes. OU coach Bob Stoops hasn’t said how many games Franks will miss, but earlier this month he said it would be “multiple” games.
Injury update: The Sooners will be without junior college transfer defensive end Chaz Nelson to start the season. Defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright said Nelson has an MCL strain that will keep him out for six weeks. Redshirt freshman defensive end P.L. Lindley is also out with a high-ankle sprain.
“Even at that, we’ve still got some good quality guys in house that we can work with,” Wright said.