OU wins Red River Shootout!

Brent Venables first season at Oklahoma was nothing to write home about.  They won only three conference games and finished the season with six wins and seven losses overall.  They were pummeled by Texas last year.  Venables first season as the head man in Norman was hampered by Lincoln Riley’s departure.  Not only did Coach Riley abandon Oklahoma, but he also stole everything of worth from the cupboard.  Venables almost had to start from scratch.  Still, he managed to bring in quarterback Dillon Gabriel.  Coach and quarterback navigated a difficult season together.  Enduring adversity together builds trust, loyalty and an unbreakable bond.

This offseason Coach Venables hit the recruiting trail hard.  He skillfully navigated the transfer portal.  Tight End Austin Stogner and Wide Receiver Andrel Anthony came to Norman via the transfer portal and both players were key cogs to the Sooners victory today.

Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables talks on the sidelines with Oklahoma defensive back Kendel Dolby (15) during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas at the Cotton Bowl, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

There is no doubt that Texas is a highly talented, well coached football team.  They took the Sooners best punches and delivered their own counter punches as the game unfolded.  Still, Brent Venables defensive prowess was on display early in the game.  From the very beginning of the game Texas quarterback Quin Ewers was harried and pressured by the swarming Soonder defense.  During the second play of the game he was picked off putting the Sooners in the Texas redzone less than a minute into the game.  Five players later Gabriel runs it in for the first Sooners touchdown of the game.

The Longhorns next offensive possession was cut short due to Ewer’s second interception.  This time the Sooners were backed up against their own endzone and unable to move the ball.  Texas managed to block the punt for a touchdown, tying the game, with nine minutes to go in the first quarter.  The Sooners spent the rest of the half running Ewers all over the back field, sacking him a few times.  Still, the Longhorns was able to sustain to long drives to score an additional ten points in the half.

At the end of the half, with less than two minutes to go, Coach Venables knew he had a chance to steal some points.  The Sooners executed a flawless two-minute drive, kicking a go-ahead field goal with two seconds left on the clock.

Coach Venables played for Bill Snyder at Kansas State.  He coached for Bob Stoops and Dabo Swinney for almost two decades.  He understands that you must dominate your first possession in the third quarter.  The Sooners set the tone for the second half by methodically taking the ball down the field and scoring a touchdown to put the Sooners up by ten.  The defense rewarded the offense by forcing and recovering a Quinn Ewers fumble.

Texas gamely hung in the game.  Unfortunately for them, they could not overcome the constant pressure the Sooner defense put on Ewers.  Still, they managed to tie the game and then go ahead by a field goal with only 1:22 go in the game.  With the game on the line, Dillon Gabriel uncorked a bit of magic connecting a series of high-level throws to put the Sooners three yards from the endzone.  During his last play of the game, Nic Anderson motions from the right to the left, lining up in the slot.  At the snap Anderson ran a deep out route putting him in the back corner of the endzone.  At the snap, Gabriel was pressured and forced to step up in the pocket and unleash his throw ahead of Anderson.  Nic Anderson pulled down the throw in the endzone for the go-ahead touchdown leaving 16 seconds on the board.

Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) evades a tackle during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Dillon Gabriel’s throwing prowess was on full display.  His receivers were open quite a bit, however he threw into some tight windows as well.  However, when the play broke down, he was not afraid to tuck it and run.  His most dangerous feature is his ability to read and run.  Gabriel tallied 113 yards rushing and a touchdown on 14 carries.  The Sooners executed several designed quarterback runs for Gabriel.  The blocking for these runs was elite and it didn’t look like Texas was ready for it.  Adding another 285 yards and a touchdown thru the air, Gabriel looks to be one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in college football right now.

We all must sit up and take notice of the Sooners now.  Brent Venables has them heading in the right direction.  No one will overlook them again this year.  Meanwhile, the boosters in Austin are seething.  Their chances at a national championship playoff game are in serious doubt.  Assuming the Sooners win out or are a one loss team, the Longhorns maybe able to get revenge in the Big 12 Championship game if they manage to win out the rest of the season.

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