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SPORTS: University of Oklahoma

Bell's Huge Day Ends All Talk Of Quarterback Controversy

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops got down to business quickly after his team's 51-20 pasting of Tulsa Saturday afternoon.

"It's pretty obvious," Stoops said when asked if Blake Bell would be the starter for the Sooners' Sept. 28 game at Notre Dame. "So much for your controversy there."

So much for it indeed.

It seems the Sooners never had Bell throw out of the Belldozer package the past two years because they didn't have to. Turns out, there was no need to doubt Bell's ability to throw. He can chuck the ball just fine, thank you very much.

If there is anyone else still doubting Bell's ability to throw the ball, it's safe to assume those are people who are not easily satisfied. Bell silenced all the critics and most likely secured the starting quarterback job for the rest of the season by hitting 27-of-37 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.

Related Story: Cannon-Bell: Sooners Blast Tulsa Behind Bell's Huge Debut

The 413 yards are the most by an OU quarterback in their career debut. The previous record was held by Sam Bradford, who threw for 363 yards in his career debut against North Texas in 2007.

Bell's performance was so impressive, it makes you wonder what Stoops and the coaching staff saw in preseason practice that prompted them to name Trevor Knight the starting quarterback instead of Bell. They're the only ones who could tell you, because everything we've seen on the field has been incredibly one-sided in Bell's favor.

While Knight has been erratic and off with most of his passes, Bell was poised and collected in the pocket, consistently waiting on receivers to get open before delivering a strike. Bell was especially good on third down, hitting 7-of-12 passes on third down for 230 yards. Bell's success wasn't confined to the pocket. He constantly bought time by eluding the Golden Hurricane's pass rush and finding open receivers for first downs.

Surprisingly, Bell didn't run the ball very much, nor did the OU offense do a particularly good job of running the ball as a whole. Bell had just 24 yards on 10 carries, with 11 of those yards coming on a 3rd-and-10 conversion on the opening drive of the game. Most of Bell's rushing yards came from trying to escape a broken down pocket, but he did carry the ball out of the familiar formation that earned him the Belldozer nickname.

OU finished the game with 194 yards rushing on 44 carries, a 4.4 yards per carry average. It's not a bad number, but after the Sooners were able to rush for over 300 yards in each of their first two games, that's pretty pedestrian for OU. Especially since a quarter of those came on a Roy Finch 48-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter.

The Sooners were without Damien Williams, suspended for a "team matter" according to Stoops, but with the offensive line the Sooners possess, along with the stable of running backs, OU shouldn't have had any problems running the ball against Tulsa.

It's clear the OU coaching staff wanted to generate some rhythm and consistency in the passing game, and Bell delivered in a big way. It appeared the Sooners went as far as switching back to the more traditional offense of the past several years, keeping Bell in the pocket and scrapping any semblance of designed quarterback runs.

The Sooners needed to know who their guy was before heading on the road to Notre Dame in two weeks. Through two games, there were plenty of doubts whether or not Trevor Knight was that guy. Now, there is no doubt. Blake Bell is the man for the Sooners and if Saturday was any indication, he was the man all along.

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