Business as usual for Irish scout team as 'Belldozer' looms

Business as usual for Irish scout team as 'Belldozer' looms
September 24, 2013, 3:15 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- At 6-foot-6, 252 pounds, Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell is just about as big as Notre Dame tight end Troy Niklas, and brings a similar physicality with the ball in his hand.

The aptly-nicknamed "Belldozer" presents a unique challenge for the Irish, as he does three things well: Run the ball in short yardage situations, escape pressure and make plays with his legs, and if his game against Tulsa was any indication, throw the ball.

That last point makes prepping for Bell even more difficult -- before he threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns against Tulsa on Sept. 14, he was cast as nothing more than a short-yardage guy who was next to impossible to tackle.

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"The biggest challenge is him having runs and passes built into the same play," coach Brian Kelly said. "That's where it really becomes a challenge, because the kid can throw the football. I think that's being overlooked, is that he throws the ball very well.

"We see him more as a passing threat. He can certainly run it, but he's a passing threat."

With that in mind, Notre Dame's scout team has a tall order ahead of them this week. Simulating Bell's size, strength and athleticism is out of the question, but Notre Dame isn't looking at, say, a tight end to run the scout team offense.

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Instead, it'll be business as usual: 5-foot-11, 180-pound walk-on Will Cronin, and 5-foot-11, 182-pound defensive back Rashad Kinlaw will quarterback the scout team this week.

"He's not as big as Blake Bell, sorry," Kelly said of Cronin. "We're going to maybe get him a little bit more. But we've got Will and then we've got Rashad Kinlaw. Both those guys usually work that position for us."

So for Notre Dame, it'll be about preparing for Oklahoma's offensive scheme more than anything else -- not a single player, no matter how tough a matchup Bell may be.

"We go with our normal tackling circuit every week," Kelly explained. "You have to prepare for him within your scheme. Somebody has got to have the quarterback within what you do defensively. I think that's probably the biggest thing. And you certainly just have to make sure that you're solid in your tackling."