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Sooner Report: Bye Week
September 16, 2013

Bell Earns Big 12 Honors After Starting Debut

Junior quarterback Blake Bell started in the first game of his career on Saturday, and he definitely took advantage of the opportunity in OU’s 51-20 win over Tulsa.

The Wichita, Kan., native set a record for most passing yards for an OU quarterback in his first start, throwing for 413 yards, surpassing Sam Bradford’s previous mark of 363 yards vs. North Texas (9/1/07). Bell added four touchdowns on 27 of 37 passing (73.0 pct.) with four touchdowns and no interceptions in addition to rushing 10 times for 24 yards. For his efforts, Bell was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.

As for his mindset after not initially being named the starter this season, Bell said he knew he had to prepare as if he would get a chance to play.

“Everyone just kept telling me that I had to be ready, and that’s what I did,” Bell explained. “I just put my head down and got to work, because you never know what’s going to happen.”

According to head coach Bob Stoops, that Boy Scout motto of “being prepared” is something that Bell exemplified and something he’s looking for in all of his players.

“It’s a testament to his character that he didn’t get down, he didn’t get negative,” Stoops said of Bell. “He kept working and he got his opportunity and he took all kind of advantage of it. Blake’s a great example of perseverance and wait and get your opportunity and take advantage of it.”

While Stoops undoubtedly savored Bell’s contribution to Saturday’s victory, the Sooners’ head coach also appreciated a behind-the-scenes moment that occurred long after most players had departed the Switzer Center locker room.

“What people don’t see is after the (postgame) press conference, Blake is back at his locker and who’s over there giving him a big old bear hug? Trevor Knight,” Stoops shared. “These guys pull for each other. There isn’t anyone there trying to undercut the other guy or wish the other guy ill will.”

Vote For Bell – Manning Award Star of the Week

QB Blake Bell’s performance didn’t just gain attention from around the Big 12 Conference. Football experts across the nation took notice.

In addition to earning Big 12 Offensive POW honors, Bell was one of the quarterbacks named for the Manning Award Star of the Week. The Manning Award, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, has named eight quarterbacks as its “Stars of the Week.”

College football fans can now vote for what they think was the best performance from this past weekend. When voting closes on Thursday at 11 a.m. (Central), the top vote-getter will be announced as the Manning Award Player of the Week.

To vote, fans can visit the following link and “like” the photo of the quarterback they believe had the best week.

The Manning Award was created by the Allstate Sugar Bowl in 2004 to honor the college football accomplishments of Archie, Peyton and Eli Manning. It is the only quarterback award that includes the candidates’ bowl performances in its balloting.

Built Ford Tough

To those around the OU program, it’s no surprise that freshman running back Keith Ford continues to see game action. This bruising freshman from Cypress, Texas, ran seven times for 46 yards last week, scoring his first collegiate touchdown in the process.

More snaps for Ford is a trend that’s likely to continue. While many Sooners’ fans got their first glimpse of Ford online when he delivered a punishing blow during the Oklahoma Drill in the early days of fall camp, according to head coach Bob Stoops, Ford’s teammates are well aware of his powerful style.

“I’ve seen Keith (Ford) just run in to the back of a guard and flatten him,” Stoops said. “If you’re in his way he’s going to run you over whether you’re a defensive lineman or his own guy. Before that video he knocked a couple of our offensive linemen down that were in his way. Everyone takes notice. They all know that you better get out of his way if he’s coming.”

What’s on Tap? Plenty More of Charles Tapper

Sophomore defensive end Charles Tapper is one of numerous young defensive players who are emerging for the Sooners this season. And just to put Tapper’s potential in perspective, keep in mind that he’s still learning the game.

“He’s a wonderful young man, and he only played high school ball for a couple of years,” Bob Stoops shared. “He was a basketball player. But, he’s doing great. He’s had three really good games. He’s active and fast, and he’s making a lot of plays. He stays on the field. He has great stamina. So, he’s been really exciting to watch.”

“He has a lot to work with,” added defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “Obviously his tools were raw, but his athleticism and willingness to learn are all very positive things. He’s an explosive player that has all the movement that you need. He just got stronger over the last year-and-a-half and he has really grown into being a really good player. He has a big future.”

Of course, Tapper’s teammates aren’t the only ones who appreciate his talent and potential.

“He has come a long way,” said senior captain Corey Nelson. “Charles Tapper is one of the best defensive linemen that we have. He just runs to the ball. He has a knack for it and he has a motor and that is pretty important, especially for a guy that has only played football three years. That is pretty interesting and surprising.”

It should come as no surprise that Tapper is chomping at the bit for his next opportunity to face another opponent.

“It’s tough because we are all so excited,” Tapper said of the two-week wait for a trip to Notre Dame. “We wish we could play this Saturday, but we still have a lot of things to learn, some more techniques to get down, some more plays to understand. We have some treatments that we have to get handled. These two weeks, I can barely get this out I’m so excited. I’m just ready to get down there and play them.”

While it’s hard for Tapper to contain his enthusiasm for the game, it’s difficult for fellow defensive end Geneo Grissom to keep a straight face when the topic of Tapper comes up.

“He’s hilarious,” Grissom said of his teammate. “He’s from Baltimore so he’s got a Baltimore accent sometimes and you have no clue what he’s saying.

“But he’s a good guy and a great football player,” Grissom continued. “Most of us on the defensive line just found out he’s only been playing for a couple years so that’s awesome. He’s going to be a great football player. It’s not fair but he’s a great athlete and a big strong physical guy.”

Stanvon Taylor is Another Young Defender Shining For Sooners

Saturday’s contest against Tulsa afforded a number of young OU defenders an opportunity to for a number of reasons. One of those individuals was true freshman corner back Stanvon Taylor, who made his first start in place of injured senior captain Aaron Colvin.

“Stanvon is great,” head coach Bob Stoops observed. “He’s a great athlete and a really conscientious and hard-working guy who’s going to have a good career. He’s a bright guy and he works hard at it; he’s talented."

“He has all the movements you like for a corner and he has great awareness and a lot of pride in the way he plays,” added Mike Stoops. “That, to me, is the most important element of it all and Dominique (Alexander) is the same way. Those guys really care about improving and if they keep that attitude then they’re going to be great players.”

Taking a cue from the page of Blake Bell, Taylor discussed the need to capitalize when an opportunity arises.

“When it’s your chance you just have to step up your game,” Taylor said. “Watching film back from the game I can see a lot of things I need to work on.  The coaches push you to get better even if you think you did good, they push you to get better. It’s a learning opportunity.”

The Man in the Middle

If you’ve noticed big No. 80, Jordan Phillips, plugging plenty of gaps from the middle of the Oklahoma defensive front, you’re not alone. Mike Stoops cited the 6-6, 324-pound sophomore from Towanda, Kan., as another Sooner who is rapidly developing.

“Jordan (Phillips) is another guy that is maturing and that’s what is giving us a chance,” the OU defensive coordinator said. “Jordan, Charles (Tapper) and Geneo (Grissom) are a couple of guys that have really responded to Coach (Jerry) Montgomery’s teaching and coaching. If we can get that out of Jordan every time he steps on the field, he gives the offense some problems over the nose.

"He has really come on maturity-wise in his desire to get better as player and that’s what has really given him a chance to make an impact on game day and plays. He’s a really athletic guy that has a really bright future.

“He has all the talent in the world and that’s what is frustrating as a coach when you see guys that have this type of talent,” Stoops concluded. “A lot of kids don’t have that kind of talent; it’s a waste if you don’t use it and use it to its fullest. Now he is starting to see that and I think he is excited about learning how he can make plays and affect teams from the middle of the defensive line, regardless if he has two guys he affects the game.

"That’s what helps us win and if he can continually do that and do it consistently it helps everyone on the defense. He’s very disruptive and he takes a lot of pride in being disruptive now.”

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