He has since redshirted before taking up a battle this spring with Drew Allen for the reserve role behind starter Landry Jones.
And that time off has made him hungry.
“I’m excited,” Bell said. “I’m excited just to get out there and, you know, show them what I’ve got. You know, not even that, but just get out there and have fun with it. I feel like I haven’t gotten a live game scrimmage/drill since my senior year of high school since we, you know, lost in the last round of the playoffs or whatever, so I’m excited.”
Not only has it made him hungrier, but standing on the sidelines in a redshirt season has also done something else, allowed him to learn behind Jones, who’s quickly becoming a veteran.
“Just [Landry] helps on the little things that, you know, [since] he’s been here being a veteran, you know, has helped a lot,” Bell said.
That has given him an even better chance to reflect on what he needs to improve and build upon.
“I mean, I say the speed of the game is coming, bits and pieces, I would say,” Bell said. “But, you know, I’m sure when you get out in a live [game], you got 85,000 people, it’ll be a lot faster, too, and I need to figure that out and keep going with it. But, you know, I just feel like a lot of the little things. I mean, I’ve got all the plays down and stuff like that, but it’s the little things, the drops, timing, reads, things like that.”
Things that can certainly be tweaked in scrimmages, which the Sooners have had a pair of so far.
“I mean, I’ve done some good, done some bad, just quicken up my decisions and it’ll come just like a lot of the guys say,” Bell said. “You know, it takes a long time at the quarterback position, which I understand that, so I’m just going to keep grinding every day and it’ll get better each day.”
And while there are some parts of his game where improvement is necessary, he has already shined in others.
Bell, as does Allen, has the distinct ability to use his mobility at the quarterback position.
“Yeah, me and Drew [Allen] like to move around a little bit,” Bell said. “But I feel like when the time comes, if they put in something to move around or option here and there, it’s up to them.”
His deep ball is coming along well, too.
“Yeah, and right now I’m happy [with it],” Bell said. “I’m making strides and everything, but I’m nowhere where I want to be. And I know that, but I’m going to keep battling each day and I’m going to get there.”
Then, add in the fact that his natural ability is starting to kick in this spring.
“You know, I’d say half-and-half,” Bell said. “I mean, there’s a lot of things out there that now I’m just like, ‘Okay, now I can go play ball and be myself,’ and, you know, if I’m hot and I got to make something happen, then I can do that, but there’s still some things that I need to just on little plays here and there that I need to get the read downs and know I’m going right now, just some timing issues.”
He comes back to his decision making coupled with those timing issues.
“Yeah, it’s just making quick decisions on the big plays, you know, a big post route, big corner route, you know, things like that,” Bell said. “You got to be able to make the quick decision and get the ball out and really be a playmaker. You got to show coaches that you can make plays out there.”
And Bell will do that more in time with increased reps.
“I’m always, you’re always going to make the wrong read here and there,” Bell said. “And that’s another thing Landry’s good at doing, helping with some of the young quarterbacks if it’s just they’re rolling into a different coverage, you need to play this side or that side, and he does a good job of helping us out, and stuff like that.
“But I feel like I’ve, from last year, I’m starting to get the hang of it, you know, what side I need to play and what coverages and stuff, but other than that, it’s all about--Coach [Heupel] stresses it--it’s all about timing. I keep saying timing, but that’s just the biggest issue for me is just getting the ball out on time and making the right decisions.”
Through all this learning process in the transition from high school to college, Bell also put one other thing to rest.
“I’m handling it fine, you know, you always have the people saying ‘Are you happy here?’ and stuff like that,” Bell said. “But I know it’s a learning progress, and I’m excited to be here, and I’m excited to learn from a guy like Landry that’s been here. And he’s, you know, getting better every day and he’s going to keep getting better, so I’m just excited to be behind him and learn from him, too.”
And Sooner fans are excited to see more out of Bell when OU hits the field for its annual Red-White Spring Game at 2 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
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