Dillon Gabriel, QB
This will obviously be a much different Oklahoma team that Texas faces this season, with Gabriel healthy coming into Red River. Lebby and the Sooners maximize Gabriel’s skill set as an efficient and decisive thrower of the football in the short and intermediate passing game. He’s picked apart multiple opposing defenses, throwing for over 300 yards in four of five games for the Sooners this season.
Gabriel is off to a tremendous start with his production this season. He leads the Big 12 in completion percentage (75.2), passing yards (1,593), passing touchdowns (15), adjusted yards per passing attempt (11.5), and passer efficiency rating (189.4). Gabriel also has nearly 100 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns this season.
The bulk of the damage Gabriel’s done to opposing defenses this season came in the short passing game and behind the line of scrimmage. Over half of his passing touchdowns and nearly half of his passing yards have come on attempts of 10 air yards or fewer. He gets the ball out fast on many quick slants, curls, and in routes. The screen game also plays a big role in Lebby’s offensive scheme.
I do have some questions, though, regarding Gabriel’s ability to move the offense down the field if he is forced to throw the ball more on intermediate and deep passes. His passer rating is in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 this season among starting quarterbacks on attempts of greater than 10 air yards.
Another threat Gabriel presents is the ability to pick up yards with his dual-threat ability. Throughout his collegiate career, he has shown the ability to scramble for big gains and pick up key first downs when the pocket collapses in front of him.
This season is no different. Gabriel has rushed for 60 yards on eight scramble attempts, good for one rushing score. He’s also picked up four first downs on scramble attempts this season.
While Gabriel is not the fastest quarterback Texas faces this season, his dual-threat ability should still be taken seriously. Texas can’t let him out of their sights if and when they collapse the pocket on him, or else he’ll scramble for easy first downs this weekend.