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Oklahoma offense features top QB Jones

Andrew Owens | Thursday, October 25, 2012

A little over a month ago, Kansas State’s defense stifled Oklahoma in a 24-19 Wildcat victory that handed Sooners coach Bob Stoops his fourth home loss in 14 years at the helm of the program.

Since then, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones has resembled the Heisman candidate he was projected to be at the beginning of the season, with seven touchdowns to just one interception during the Sooners’ three-game winning streak. But Irish coach Brian Kelly said Jones is not the only reason for Oklahoma’s offensive resurgence.

“It’s the balance on offense,” Kelly said. “It’s not just Landry Jones.  If it’s just Landry Jones, then they’re not where they are.  It’s their ability to run the football equally as well as throwing the football.

“The offense is certainly about Landry Jones, but more importantly it’s the balance that they have.”

Jones has been aided by the emergence of sophomore quarterback Blake Bell. Bell has become the de facto goal-line running back in recent weeks for the Sooners to the tune of eight rushing touchdowns in four games, earning him the ‘Belldozer’ moniker. Bell stole the show in the Red River Shootout against Texas, when he scored four times on 11 rushes in a 63-21 rout of the Sooners’ biggest rival.

“If it’s first and goal from the five, we’re going to have a hard time keeping them out of the end zone,” Kelly said. “And so they bring [Bell] in … and he’s big. He’s physical.

“So I would tell and I told our defensive coaches this: If he’s on the field, we’re going to have to do something really extraordinary, because he’s a tough guy to stop. So, again, I think the way they use them, the circumstances and when he goes into the game, he’s been very, very effective, especially in their short yardage goal line offense.”

Irish senior linebacker Manti Te’o said the approach remains the same despite Bell’s 6-foot-6, 254-pound frame.

“You just hit him. It’s nothing different,” Te’o said. “At the end of the day, you bring him to the ground. It’s nothing different. He runs the same as anybody else. He’s bigger than normal running backs, but that’s football. It’s nothing different.”

But it’s still Jones’ job to take the offense into the red zone.

“I am a lot different now. I have been playing a lot better,” said Jones, who passed up the NFL Draft to play his senior season at Oklahoma. “Obviously after games like Texas Tech, Texas and last week against Kansas, you are going to have a lot higher confidence and I think everyone on this team is going to have higher confidence because of the way we have been playing.”

Oklahoma dropped to No. 16 in the AP poll after the home loss to Kansas State, who has risen to third in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings. With the momentum of a perfect October, the Sooners are back in the national championship picture with their No. 8 ranking in the BCS.

“That’s where we want to be,” Kelly said of the level to which Stoops has taken the program. “We want that consistency. Year-in and year-out you know Oklahoma is going to be part of the conversation. And that’s where we want to get our football program.”

Kelly and the Irish can take a substantial step to that end this weekend by slowing down Jones and keeping the ‘Belldozer’ out of the picture.


Contact Andrew Owens at [email protected]