While Kansas University’s football team has begun to look to red-shirt freshman quarterback Michael Cummings to bring a different — read: more mobile — look to the Jayhawks’ offense, what Cummings does on the field pales in comparison to what the Sooners get from their change-of-pace quarterback, Wichita native Blake Bell.
Known simply as “The Belldozer,” OU’s back-up QB to Landry Jones stands 6-foot-6, 254 pounds and has one job and one job only.
“We know about the Belldozer,” Kansas coach Charlie Weis said. “We all got that one down. They put in this huge mountain of a man at quarterback when they get down close (to the goal line), and they run Jayhawk formation, they snap it to him, and he runs it in, and everyone knows he’s going to run it. We will probably stop him, and he’ll probably throw a pass (this week). But when they put him in there, it is usually just to go ahead and muscle it in.”
OU coach Bob Stoops said OU believed when it recruited Bell that he could add that kind of Tim Tebow look to the offense.
“We knew how big and strong he was,” Stoops said. “He was a good athlete in high school. We always recruit our quarterbacks first on if they can throw the football, and if you can run with it, it gives you a little extra dimension.”
As for the guy who runs it — Bell has rushed for 71 yards and seven touchdowns on 28 carries this season — he likes the gimmick offense’s versatility.
“(It’s) a little bit of everything (reading the defense and working by design),” Bell said. “I’ve got to wait for people to pull around. I’ve got to wait and read (fullbacks Aaron) Ripkowski and Trey (Millard) and everyone’s block. But after that you find a hole and just hit it, just try to get the first down or get in the end zone.”
Don’t forget Jones
Putting too much emphasis on The Belldozer seems to be a dangerous idea considering the fact that the guy who starts at QB is the Sooners’ all-time leader in several statistical categories.
“It really all starts with Landry Jones,” Weis said. “He’s 6-foot-4, 218-pounds, has experience, a big arm and accurate. He throws for 270 a game. The things that you have to look for to stand out for good quarterbacks is touchdown-to-interception ratio, and in this case it’s 3:1, which I think is always a magic number. He has nine touchdowns and three interceptions, which is a 3:1 ratio.”
Jones ranks as OU’s all-time leader in wins by a QB (33), passing yards (13,731), TD passes (102), completions (1,135) and pass attempts (1,813) and ranks fourth in completion percentage (.626).
OU D led by D-Backs
As is the case during most years, the Oklahoma roster is packed with future pros, but this defense, which ranks 14th in the country and has seen its starters surrender just one touchdown in the past three weeks, is led by an unusual group — its defensive backs.
OU’s three leading tacklers start in the secondary, with safeties Tony Jefferson (37) and Javon Harris (30) joining cornerback Aaron Colvin (20) as the top tacklers on the team.
Weis said the trio of defensive backs leading the team in tackles is a product of the way the Sooners play defense. There’s not a lot of trickery, and the defensive backfield often is divided into quarters, with each guy manning an area and all of the defensive linemen and linebackers funneling the action into those spots where the DBs often play close to the line of scrimmage and lower the boom on anybody that comes their way. Odd-cornerback-out Demontre Hurst is fifth on the team with 18 tackles.
Oklahoma leads the all-time series with Kansas, 69-27-6. The Sooners have won seven straight against the Jayhawks, including a 47-17, primetime victory last season in Lawrence, when the Sooners came in ranked first in the country.
Prior to that, KU had hung tough with the Sooners for a while during their last two meetings, losing 35-13 in 2009, and 45-31 in 2008. KU was ranked 24th and 16th in those games, respectively.
KU’s last win in the series came in 1997 in Lawrence, when Terry Allen’s first KU squad stunned the Sooners in front of a crowd of 43,500 at Memorial Stadium.