Coaches Set to Name Backup QB at End of Week

NORMAN, Okla. — The battle for the backup quarterback position was one that was largely believed to be won by Drew Allen back in the spring with his impressive performance in the Red-White Game, while Blake Bell still showed his need for necessary growth.

But it has been a battle so far throughout fall camp, so much of a battle that with nine days left before OU's season-opener, the Sooners have yet to officially name one of the two as second-string to starter Landry Jones.

"If it hasn't been made at this point, then it's always tough [to make the decision]," said co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel.

There's Allen, who redshirted in 2009 before completing 9-of-14 passes for 89 yards and rushing for a touchdown last year as the backup to Jones.

He then went 16-for-29 for 179 yards with a touchdown, but one interception, in the Spring Game, leading all passers.

"I feel a lot more ready," Allen said. "I mean, just that one year, just each year under my belt just adds to the confidence and adds to the preparation and understanding of everything in the offense and just bonding with the team."

Or Bell, who was a highly-touted five-star product out of Wichita's Bishop Carroll High before redshirting last season.

Bell bided his time on scout team before struggling some in the Spring Game, but still throwing a 17-yard touchdown to wide receiver Trey Franks.

"I think if you want to be a great player, you know, I think you have to wait your time," Bell said. "Not necessarily wait forever, but you got to learn, learn the game and not saying I didn't know the game, but there's a lot to learn, and I think that's, from the time I've been here to now, I've learned so much, and I'm going to keep learning more, and I can only get better."

So, that's the decision the coaching staff is faced with.

Should they go with the guy who has actual live-game backup experience or one that is certainly considered the underdog coming out of the spring but has progressed in strides since then?

Perhaps what will ultimately be the deciding factor is something coaches search for all the time.

"Consistency, you know, throwing a good ball, making the play that's there, avoiding that poor decision as much as anything [is what we're looking for]," said OU head coach Bob Stoops.

Aside from that, a lot of it just comes down to who would really be mature enough and the right fit should anything happen to Jones.

"Well, I think it's important that your football team feels confident about whoever the guy is that's stepping into the huddle," Heupel said. "I think our team feels that way about both of those guys."

As for a timetable, Heupel said it will be in the next couple days.

"You know, at the end of this week, we'll sit down and make a decision about [who it is]," Heupel said.

What has made this backup quarterback battle even more difficult and maybe more special than others is the "friendly" heated competition between the two.

"Of course, they're competing against each other all the time, but you know what's fun about them? You know, you see them root for each other," Stoops said. "You see them, you know, tell each other, ‘Good, hey nice job.' They're really, all three of those guys, you know, have been around each other and are really complimentary of each other and support one another and it's really, you know, we've--knock wood--have had that here. You know, guys helping one another, pushing each other to be better, and it's been healthy competition."

Best friends, though?

Not so fast, Heupel said.

"I'm not sure that they're each other's best friend, but we've got really good chemistry in the quarterback room," Heupel said. "You know, when we've had competition, those guys compete the right way. We compete as a group. First and foremost, we push each other every single day to be the best we can, and wherever the chips fall, then we play them as they play out."

However, one thing's for sure: Both have made strides with solid work ethic and have gained trust even in the starter himself if the unspeakable should take place.

"Yeah, Drew and Blake have been doing a great job," Jones said. "You know, they're obviously hard workers, get in the film room and know their stuff, get into their playbook, so I feel comfortable enough if where I went down or anything like that, there wouldn't be any slack left, and they'd come up and pick up the pace where we left off."

Sooner Nation hopes to avoid that problem all together, but it could happen and the one who would then be thrown into the fire in that instance will be announced soon.

Follow me at twitter.com/joeyhelmer10 or facebook.com/joeyhelmer.

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