Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Brian Bell didn't necessarily look the
part of a starting quarterback when he stepped into the Sam Houston State
huddle as a true freshman in 2010, but he acted the part.
Even better for the Bearkats, he played the part.
For over a decade, Sam Houston State was a program that had utilized a wealth
of veteran and transfer quarterbacks. First-year head coach Willie Fritz then
committed the offense to the wiry 6-foot-2 Bell, who barely looked his 175
pounds when he gained the starting job just three games into his rookie
Bell quickly earned his teammates' confidence through his leadership qualities
in the huddle and composure during games.
All he has done since is win games - 30 as a starting quarterback, a school
A victory on Jan. 5 would be his biggest one. The Bearkats (11-3) face North
Dakota State (14-1) in Frisco, Texas, in a rematch of last season's NCAA
Division I Football Championship Game.
For Bell, it's a chance to reverse a poor performance - 12-of-31 for 115 yards
and two interceptions with minus-eight rushing yards - in the Bearkats' 17-6
loss to NDSU last January.
The junior comes into this season's championship game amid a strong postseason
run. Over the Bearkats' 11-3 campaign, he has completed 61.6 percent of his
passes for 2,460 yards and 24 touchdowns, with only seven interceptions,
ranking 11th in the FCS in passing efficiency (151.27). He also has rushed for
354 yards and six touchdowns in the read option.
Raised in a football family, Bell played under his father, Mark, at China
Spring High in Texas and acts the part of an extra coach on the field. Behind
his lead, the Bearkats rank second in the FCS in scoring offense (41.3 ppg),
but they will face the nation's No. 1-ranked defense in North Dakota State.
In Five-a-Side - In the FCS Huddle's monthly feature of "five questions, five
answers" with an influential person in the FCS - Bell discusses the Sam
Houston State offense and the upcoming national championship game.
Let's kick off:
TSN: Obviously your team was disappointed by last season's championship game.
Did your team come away feeling the better team won that game?
BB: I feel like they played a great game and we beat ourselves in a lot of
aspects. But they were a great ball team last year, we were a great ball team.
They were fortunate to come out with the victory, which was very disappointing
on our end. It's a new season, we're excited about this season. (Playing in
the championship game) was our No. 1 goal coming into this year. Our motto is
'Finish' this year. We've put ourselves into a great opportunity to finish
this year, so we're looking forward to this matchup.
TSN: Can you talk about how your team's offense has evolved this season?
BB: With Coach Ruse (first-year offensive coordinator Doug Ruse), he's a
really fun coach to play for. He's got us throwing the ball just a little bit
more than we did last year; it's a lot more fun for everybody. We're just
having a good time. We have some dimensions that we didn't have. (Wide
receiver) Trey Diller is making a lot of big plays for us this year. (Slot
receiver) Chance Nelson is making a lot of big plays in the passing game.
There's just a lot of things that we didn't have last year that we do have
this year. It gives us a lot of confidence going into this game.
TSN: What do you think you're doing better as a quarterback?
BB: My main focus is not to turn the ball over. My job is to get the ball from
the center into my hands and get it into the playmakers' hands. We've got a
lot of playmakers on our offense, which can make big things happen. Our job is
to get them the ball. That's not new. Don't turn the ball over, just be
patient and take what the defense gives me.
TSN: Can you break down what makes the North Dakota State defense so good?
BB: You're not going to make it to the national championship without a great
defense, you know that. I couldn't say enough, they're a great defense. They
play technique-sound football. Great D-line, great linebackers, great
secondary, the whole nine yards. They have a lot of great athletes, they have
a lot of team speed. Nobody is going to underestimate them, they're a great
ball team. We're just looking forward offensively to get in there and compete
TSN: Obviously, this is a matchup of two great teams and it could come down to
the end. What kind of a game do you want to turn this into as opposed to last
BB: Throughout our season, and I'm sure North Dakota State as well, we've had
a lot of games that we've gone through and experienced, I guess you could say.
We've got a lot of players who have played a lot on our offense. I think we're
prepared and we're ready for any game that comes upon us. If it's a grind-it-
out all four quarters and overtime, we're ready for that. It's going to be a
great ball game.
The Sports Network