In 2011 and 2012, when the Oklahoma Sooners needed to move the chains or punch the ball into the end zone, they relied on Blake Bell and the Belldozer formation. Basically, they would set Bell in the shotgun formation, with two or three other running backs or blockers around him and he would just run up the middle, busting through all the defenders.
Bell scored 24 rushing touchdowns from the Belldozer formation in two seasons.
On Saturday, against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Bell ran the ball for 59 yards, picking up some nice yardage on the ground. However, in the few cases where OU needed one or two yards for the first down, Bell was unable to move the chains.
The Belldozer was stopped in its tracks.
What is interesting is not Blake Bell’s inability to pick up the first down, but the play calling itself. When the Belldozer worked so well in the past, Bell just ran up the middle and plowed over everyone like a runaway bulldozer. It is where the formation got its name.
On Saturday, OU chose to have Bell run outside the tackles to try to pick up a first down using finesse and speed. Blake Bell is 6-6, 252 pounds. He doesn’t move the chains by juking and outrunning the defense. He runs over the defense. The Sooners asked Bell to run for first downs, but for some strange reason, chose not to use the Belldozer formation to do it.
If you are going to have Bell use his feet to move the chains, shouldn’t OU put him in the best situation to do so? Just two weeks ago, Bob Stoops said in a press conference that the Belldozer still had a place in the playbook. Maybe they are trying to prove Bell is more than that, but when it comes time to run the ball, the Belldozer is the perfect weapon.
Stoops said earlier in the year that he was hesitant to use the Belldozer formation because he didn’t want Blake Bell to take the hits that come when he runs those plays. On Saturday, Bell even did something that I have never seen him do before – he slid to avoid a tackle.
I am all for Blake Bell not getting hurt, and those cramps in the third quarter reminded me of that danger, but if the Sooners are going to have Bell run anyway, the Belldozer is the package that they need to utilize to move the chains.