Anybody who saw the fourth quarter of last year’s Indiana State and NDSU football game got a taste of just how good running back Shakir Bell can be. He finished with 96 yards, but 53 of those were in the final 15 minutes when the Bison were trying to stop the Sycamores and get the ball back. The 17-14 loss would be NDSU’s only defeat all season.
Bell has sensational balance and power, one of those guys who usually requires more than one tackler to bring him down. Whether he’s good enough to play in the NFL is debatable because of his 5-foot-7 size but I’m sure he’ll get a shot.
His career ended this week and just how it did depends on what version you want to take. The team said it was because of injury. Bell tweeted he was dismissed from the team. Whatever the case, Saturday’s game is shaping up to be the following scenario: Either the Sycamores will continue the mental slide from last weekend that included a 55-14 defeat at Illinois State and lay down and die or they will come out with more gusto than ever. There will be no inbetween.
We don’t know if Bell was an attitude problem and if indeed he was booted off the team, we don’t know why. I’ve seen it many times that no matter how good a player is, teams are better off without the problems hanging around, especially in college football where emotion and momentum mean the world. I found it interesting earlier this season when ISU head coach Mike Sanford said he had to almost “recruit” Bell to come back to the team this season after the previous coach, Trent Miles, left for Georgia State.
The players may rally around the problems of the last week and come out with a new attitude. Or this game may be 63-7.