Belldozer running to record book

NORMAN, Okla. -- Believe it or not, Oklahoma recruited and signed Blake Bell because of his arm.

Not necessarily his wheels.

But thanks to the "Belldozer" formation, the sophomore backup quarterback is quickly emerging as one of the most effective and efficient rushing quarterbacks in Oklahoma history.

"I don't think we necessarily envisioned using him in this way," said offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who recruited Bell out of Wichita, Kan. "That's something that's kind of unfolded and been really good for us. He's taken advantage of his opportunities and been really good in the tight zone."

Has he ever.

Bell already has 20 career rushing touchdowns, including four in a 63-21 shellacking of Texas last weekend. Only J.C. Watts and Jamelle Holieway rushed for four touchdowns as OU quarterbacks in a game. They each did it once. Bell has now done it twice.

"The offensive line and Landry [Jones] do a great job, and when I get the chance to get in there, I want to make sure I get the football in the end zone," Bell said. "It's been awesome."

Bell has been nothing short of awesome rushing the ball.

On OU's opening drive against the Longhorns, Bell converted a third-and-1, then later a fourth-and-1. The next play, he stiff-armed a Texas defender while sweeping right for an 8-yard touchdown.

Early in the second quarter, he finished off another drive with a touchdown run to give the Sooners a 20-2 lead and help ignite the rout.

"When we block it right, you can't stop it," guard Bronson Irwin said of the Belldozer. "It's extremely difficult to stop."

Coming out of Bishop Carroll High School, Bell was pursued by Notre Dame, Kansas State and OU's opponent this week, Kansas, primarily because of his arm. Bell was a decent runner, with more than 800 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns his senior season. But he threw the ball 750 times his final two seasons of high school, and connected for 69 passing touchdowns.

"We always recruit our quarterbacks first on if they can throw the football," coach Bob Stoops said. "If you can run with it, it gives you a little extra dimension."

Bell has given the OU offense just that. In large part due to the Belldozer, the Sooners are 13th nationally in third-down conversion rate, and tied for first in fourth-down conversions.

"It's just a numbers game. He's 255 pounds," Heupel said. "He can throw the ball, we've seen that, and that creates some openings, but it's his size and strength and his ability to run. You just get an advantage when your quarterback is running."

Don't think, however, that the Sooners will be running Bell over and over next season when he takes over for Jones. The Belldozer figures to remain a part of the offense. But only a part. After all, the Sooners didn't recruit Bell to run.

"I want to throw," Bell said. "Not sure your body can hold up running the ball every time anyway."