Texas Football: 4 reasons why Longhorns could dominate OU in Red River

Byron Murphy II, Texas football
Byron Murphy II, Texas football /
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Dillon Gabriel
Dillon Gabriel /

Inconsistencies throwing beyond 10 air yards for Dillon Gabriel

The biggest question marks for Oklahoma fifth-year senior starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel are his performances against top 25 foes and how he’ll hold up under pressure from this skilled group up front for the Longhorns. Gabriel and the Sooners haven’t faced anything close to an opponent that resembles a top-25 team this season.

He boasts an 8-9 record with a 105.6 passer rating in 17 career starts against Power Five opponents in college. Gabriel didn’t face the Longhorns in last year’s edition of Red River as he was out due to injury he suffered against the TCU Horned Frogs.

But another issue the Sooners have faced in the passing game this season is the inability to stretch the field against teams with quality defensive lines consistently. Iowa State and Cincinnati were the best defensive fronts the Sooners faced this season.

In Big 12 play, Gabriel ranks last in adjusted quarterback rating on passing attempts of greater than 10 air yards (per SIS Data Hub). Gabriel wasn’t his usual efficient self, completing passing attempts at a high clip throwing to the intermediate and deep parts of the field in the last two weeks. He’s completed only 48.1 percent of passing attempts in the intermediate and deep passing game in Big 12 play.

Texas hasn’t defended the deep ball well this season. The Longhorns have allowed over 100 yards per game on deep ball throws, good for worst among Big 12 defenses. It bodes well for the Longhorns that one of Gabriel’s biggest weaknesses this season against Power Five competition is throwing beyond 10 yards in front of the line of scrimmage.

The defensive line should help mask some of the issues Texas had at safety and boundary corner getting beat over the top this season.