Practice report: Blake Bell earns No. 2 job

NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma’s quarterback of the future is also now its No. 2 quarterback. After Tuesday’s practice, Bob Stoops announced that he has named Blake Bell the No. 2 quarterback ahead of Drew Allen.

“Drew has done a real good job and made great improvement, I just feel Blake has been more consistent overall and playing the way we need him to,” Stoops said.

Stoops said that if Bell had to come in for Landry Jones, the Sooners would still “sneak” some runs in there, but that OU wouldn’t be running the “Belldozer” full time.

By taking the No. 2 job, Bell becomes the overwhelming favorite to succeed Jones in 2013.

• Stoops also discussed his two younger QBs, Kendal Thompson and Trevor Knight. Stoops really praised the development of both.

On Thompson: “Kendal is doing a nice job. He’s really an excellent young guy the way he’s working and doing things.”

On Knight: “Love him. He’s really doing well. Excellent young man. Last couple of days in the scout work we did, he couldn’t have been better. Just really doing well.”

The battle to succeed Bell likely will come down to Thompson and Knight.

• With just a little over a week until the opener, the defensive backfield rotation is coming into focus. The starters are no surprise. Tony Jefferson and Javon Harris will be manning safety; Aaron Colvin and Demontre Hurst, cornerback; and Gabe Lynn will be playing nickelback, with Julian Wilson backing him up while also coming in at the dimeback.

“We feel good about those six,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “After that, the secondary gets thinned out a little bit of experience, and that’s what we have to try to develop as we move forward throughout the season.”

Stoops said that true freshman cornerback Gary Simon has been running a lot with the second team, and figures to be the Sooners’ top backup at the position in case of an injury.

At safety, former walk-on Jesse Paulsen, who has been put on scholarship, is Stoops’ top reserve along with Lynn, who could move to back safety in case of injury to either Jefferson or Harris. During the spring, Quentin Hayes had been working with the second team at safety, and had impressed. But shortly after the spring game, he was suspended indefinitely for violating university rules.

“Now that Quentin Hayes is out for who knows,” Stoops said, “we’ll have to see how that permanently works its way out.”

Trey Franks, who was suspended indefinitely the same time Hayes was, has been practicing at safety the last few days. Stoops termed the move “experimental.”

• Defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright has had to overcome quite the attrition at his position. Both of his 2011 starters are now in the NFL. Geneo Grissom moved to tight end over the summer. And last week, David King was shifted to defensive tackle to compensate for the suspension of Stacy McGee.

The injury bug has also bitten the position. Wright confirmed that junior-college transfer Chaz Nelson is out six weeks with a knee injury to his MCL, and that P.L. Lindley has been sidelined with a high-ankle sprain.

Still, Wright feels good about his group going into the season, thanks to the leadership of senior R.J. Washington, the consistency of Chuka Ndulue and the emergence of converted linebacker Rashod Favors and true freshmen Charles Tapper and Michael Onuoha.

“We’ve got to bring some young guys along and develop them and get them ready to go,” Wright said. “I really like where Rashod Favors is getting himself and I really like the two freshmen. Definitely no doubt we’re going to end up using them. They’re ready to play, they just don’t have game-time experience.”

• Still no news on receiver Jalen Saunders, who continues to wait to hear if he’ll be granted a waiver to play right away by the NCAA. Bob Stoops said he hasn’t heard back on Arizona transfer Cortez Johnson, a cornerback.

“That hasn’t been decided totally either,” Stoops said. “I don’t know where that’s at either.”

• Bobby Jack Wright said the Sooners aren’t capable of running the “Endy” package that was so successful last season, utilizing four defensive ends on the field at once in obvious passing situations. But Wright didn’t rule out a return of the package maybe sometime later this season.

“We had four guys that could really rush the QB, so that was good last year,” Wright said. “But who knows? Before conference play, we’ve got 10 days plus two games, by that time we may have those young pups ready to go.”

• Javon Harris believes he can see a difference in this year’s team compared to a year ago.

“It’s a more mature team,” Harris said.

Harris thinks the Sooners are more mature, even though OU has several true freshman who appear poised to play.

“We have a lot of young guys who caught on fast,” he said. “For guys to come in and pick up the system that fast is amazing.”

The senior safety went on to laud the early play of freshman defensive backs Zack Sanchez and Gary Simon. Secondary depth could be a issue for the Sooners but if those two can make an impact it would be a terrific boost for the secondary.

Immaturity played a role in OU’s disappointing 2011 so the Sooners hope they handle certain obstacles differently this season.

• David King said moving inside to defensive tackle is a whole different ballgame even though he moved inside during passing situations in 2011.

“I have to play the run now. There’s a lot of big guys in there,” he said with a laugh.

Fortunately for the Sooners, King has excellent size at 6-foot-5, 286 pounds. He should be able to get his feet wet early against UTEP and get comfortable at the position. King said he’s willing to do whatever the team needs and showing his versatility to NFL scouts isn’t a bad thing.

• Landry Jones feels good about the addition of Justin Brown to the Sooners receiving corps. Brown has picked up the offense quickly and has shown playmaking ability.

The quarterback-receiver relationship is critical and Jones said he likes the direction their relationship is heading but Brown provides a little different look at receiver.

“He’s a long strider, so I’m getting used to that,” Jones said.

The more Jones and Brown can see reps together the better and quicker their connection will develop.