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NORMAN, Okla. – For nearly two hours Saturday in Oklahoma's spring game, junior Blake Bell did everything to show the starting quarterback's job should be his to lose when training camp starts in August.
It wasn't until right at the end that contrasting performances from Bell and Kendal Thompson left some doubt moving forward.
Bell threw for 213 yards and two touchdowns for the best performance of the three candidates trying to become the next starting quarterback, but his bid for a game-winning drive turned into a miserable failure.
Bell was sacked on third-and-long to set up a fourth-and-27 that he was able to convert with a lofted desperation pass that Derrick Woods tracked down, then got hit by blitzing linebacker Eric Striker as he tried to pass the ball on the final play of the scrimmage.
Thompson's 14-yard touchdown lob to running back David Smith with 3:12 left ended up being the decisive score in a 28-24 win by the White team, with all three quarterbacks splitting time on both squads.
As expected, the competition — which also includes redshirt freshman Trevor Knight — will carry over into training camp.
"When somebody has earned it, then that's when we'll name a guy," offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said.
Bell scrambled to the sideline and threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Durron Neal in the second quarter of the scrimmage and later added 49-yard TD to running back Roy Finch, who took a short pass and ran the final 45 yards to the end zone.
Bell even admitted the offense has plenty of work to do before the season starts Aug. 31 against Louisiana-Monroe.
"We've a lot of guys hurt up front, kind of dinged up in the spring and some of the guys sitting out and not playing," Bell said. "As we go through the summer and we get our timing with routes and stuff with all the guys and just keep working, I think we're going to get there get there.
"Right now, no. That's not bad, but we've just got to keep making strides."
Fullback Trey Millard, center Gabe Ikard and cornerback Aaron Colvin were among the starters who sat out. Coach Bob Stoops typically prefers to keep proven veterans out of the scrimmage, leaving it as a time to evaluate younger players.
At the center of it all is the first quarterback competition since Sam Bradford won the job in 2007. His injury opened the door for Landry Jones to succeed him the past four seasons. Stoops said the spring game might carry extra weight than an average day at practice, but it's still only part of evaluating the candidates.
"I'm very pleased with where we're at," Stoops said. "I guess I don't know that a coach is ever satisfied. You always want more.
"But I think the coaches have done a really good job working with these guys and ... we've taken a lot of good strides in places we needed to. In 14 practices, that's not enough. They need to have a really big summer. I believe our players are aware of that. If they do, then we'll build on it in the summer. But the big part will be their commitment here through the rest of spring and in the summer. Are they going to make the gains they need to in the out of season?"
Thompson, the son of former Oklahoma quarterback Charles Thompson, threw for 151 yards and had 35 yards on eight rushes.
Knight had 86 yards passing, including a 4-yard touchdown throw on a slant to Don Caudill, and 36 yards on nine carries. Knight also fumbled a snap at his own goal line that resulted in Frank Shannon's defensive score.
Going into the scrimmage, Stoops said he was looking for the quarterbacks to be consistent and avoid critical mistakes.
"I feel like it is that simple. If you don't make mistakes, you've got a really good chance of winning," Knight said. "And you get the ball in your playmakers' hands, you've got a really good chance of winning. ... We want to make few mistakes because if you make few mistakes — the fewest turnovers — most likely you're going to win the ballgame."