Oklahoma Football: Lack of Dillon Gabriel no excuse for OU offense – Sooners Wire

  • October 10, 2022

At the same time the Oklahoma Sooners were struggling to move the ball in the Cotton Bowl against the Texas Longhorns, two other Big 12 teams had newsworthy quarterback situations play out on Saturday.
Kansas lost Jalon Daniels to a shoulder injury in the first half of their loss to TCU. But that didn’t slow down the Jayhawks. Jason Bean came in and played lights out to give Kansas a shot to win at the end. Though they weren’t able to get a touchdown to tie in the final seconds, Bean was very good in relief, completing 16 of 24 passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns.
Out in Stillwater, the Texas Tech Red Raiders opted to start redshirt freshman Behren Morton in place of Donovan Smith. Morton made his first start on the road against the No. 7 team in the nation, and Joey McGuire and the Texas Tech staff asked him to throw 62 times. 62 times.
And Morton responded, completing 39 of 62 passes for 379 yards and two touchdowns. The Red Raiders lost by ten, but Morton helped keep them in the game. They even opened the game with a score on Tech’s first drive.
That was all playing out as the Oklahoma Sooners were getting walloped by the Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl Saturday and doing everything in their power to not let their quarterbacks throw.
How many attempts did Davis Beville have in the game? 12. He threw the ball just 12 times in a game where Oklahoma was down 28-0 at halftime and 35-0 midway through the third quarter. Jeff Lebby asked him to throw it just four times in the second half.
Beville may not have been up to slinging it 30 times in this game, but the coaching staff did him no favors a week ago against TCU by not letting him get as many pass attempts as possible against live action. Against the Texas Longhorns, they decided the best way forward for the offense was the wildcat, but down four scores at halftime, the Sooners were going to need to throw at some point. Down five scores midway through the third, the Sooners laid down and waved the white flag.
Filling in for Gabriel, Beville hasn’t been good, but it’s hard to get into a rhythm as a quarterback when you’re not allowed to throw it. This would have been the perfect opportunity to see what he or another quarterback could do with extended snaps in the passing game.
Even if they didn’t think they were going to be able to come back and win the game, they should have let Beville or one of their other quarterbacks get some valuable game experience throwing the football. Instead, Beville played decoy for the most part as Oklahoma ran Brayden Willis, Eric Gray, and Marcus Major behind center to try and manufacture offense.
In a game where the Sooners were the underdog, playing without their starting quarterback, the coaching staff came in with an ultra-conservative game plan. Sure, they went for it on fourth down several times, but that doesn’t change the passive nature of the offense.
They looked like a team that was afraid of making a mistake, even when they were down four scores. But what would it have mattered?
Though there were 30 minutes of game time left coming out of the break, it never felt like Oklahoma was going to get back into the game. Texas made their wildcat adjustments and slowed down the only part of the Sooners’ offense that was working in the first half. That was pretty much all she wrote.
But instead of going down swinging and giving your quarterback a chance, Lebby took the ball out of his hands and didn’t even give him an opportunity.
What would it have hurt to let Davis Beville or Nick Evers or General Booty throw the ball? Maybe the Sooners lose 56-0 or 70-0 instead of 49-0? Maybe. But it wouldn’t have looked any worse than it did on Saturday, no matter the score.
When the game was 35-0, it felt pretty much over. What could have happened next could have been valuable for your quarterbacks on the roster to get game reps. Instead, Oklahoma took a passive approach, more concerned with making a mistake in the passing game than attempting to make anything happen offensively.
Oklahoma had just 24 yards of offense in the second half.
Beville or Evers or Booty may not have been able to make much happen through the air against Texas. But the bummer is that we’ll never know. Jeff Lebby didn’t give the passing game a chance against TCU or against the Texas Longhorns.
So much of what this team was supposed to be about was an aggressive approach. As the defense floundered again on Saturday, the offense was anything but aggressive. They played not to lose. And while Dillon Gabriel’s absence certainly mattered on Saturday, the game plan and in-game management of the offense mattered too.
The Oklahoma Sooners are the Oklahoma Sooners. If Kansas and Texas Tech can have multiple quarterbacks capable of playing high-quality football and making things happen through the air, the Sooners can too. Dillon Gabriel or not, there’s no excuse for what “passed” as offense for the Sooners on Saturday.
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