When evaluating the quarterback position in Saturday’s spring game two things were abundantly clear for the Sooners. 1) Dillon Gabriel has a good grasp of what Jeff Lebby wants to do with this offense. 2) If Gabriel gets injured, or has to miss time for any other reason, the Oklahoma may be in some trouble.
Gabriel, who played for Lebby at Central Florida, understandably has a clear advantage at the position. He’s a veteran in the college ranks and has already produced eye-popping numbers in Lebby’s offense. On Saturday the lefty completed 19 of his 28 passes for 250 yards and a score, along with an interception and three sacks. Most notably though, Gabriel looked in command of the offense and looked comfortable when he was out of the pocket. That wasn’t really the case with the backup quarterbacks though.
Ralph Rucker, who many assumed would be a frontrunner for QB#2, completed for 62 yards. His longest play of the day was 19 yards but he often looked slow and indecisive which helped contribute to him being sacked three times. Nick Evers has a ton of potential but he absolutely looked like a true freshman taking his first snaps at the collegiate level. He was sacked four times, more than any other quarterback, and only attempted one pass, which fell incomplete. Micah Bowens was responsible for the longest play of the game. He connected with true freshman Jayden Gibson for a 95-yard touchdown. However, that was his only completed pass on the afternoon.
None of the back up quarterbacks were terrible but I left the game wondering which of the three, four if you include Ben Harris (2-of-4 for 20 yards), would I feel most comfortable running the offense should Gabriel not be able to go? Simply put, none of them. Oklahoma’s best answer at the backup quarterback position may be the transfer portal where currently more than fifty quarterbacks are looking for a new home.
I would imagine that getting an experienced transfer to come to OU might be a bit of a tough sell. The Sooners have made it clear that Gabriel is their guy heading into the 2022 season so a transfer would have to arrive to Norman with the understanding that they’d be competing for the backup spot at best. Still though, that number of quarterbacks in the portal is only going to grow now that spring ball is concluding across the nation. Just this month alone there have been 18 quarterbacks enter the portal and the summer transfer season hasn’t even arrived yet. Surly there’s a guy out there that Jeff Lebby could convince to come as a back up in 2022 and then compete for a starting position once Gabriel has exhausted his eligibility.
With 11 commitments from the transfer portal since Brent Venables arrived to Norman, the Sooners are ranked #4 by 247Sports in the Transfer Portal Team Rankings. Many of those transfers, like Gabriel, are expected to have an immediate impact for a team that’s expected to be in the Big 12 title hunt and in the College Football Playoff conversation. However, Oklahoma’s key to success in 2022 might just be a twelfth transfer who is just fine with being an experienced backup quarterback.
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