Oklahoma’s Gabriel ‘learning how to win in different ways’ behind 5 TD performance against Tulsa 

Before Saturday, Dillon Gabriel had been 0-2 against Tulsa in his career. 

He lost twice while at Central Florida in 2019-20, and Saturday marked the first time he’d get another chance while a member of Oklahoma. Gabriel said his prior record against the Golden Hurricane was a sticking point in meetings leading up to the 66-17 win. 

“Something I’ve always remembered, and in a not a great way, but just something that sticks with you,” Gabriel said. “Being able to end it the right way does feel good.” 

Gabriel went 28-for-31 for 421 yards and five touchdowns against Tulsa, helping lead the way to a big win and a 3-0 start for a third-straight season. 

“We’re learning how to win in different ways and learning how to play just good football offensively in a bunch of different ways: running the football, throwing it and then situationally,” Gabriel said. “I think I’m very proud of our guys doing that and we got to continue to emphasize that and be really good at that.”

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Three of Gabriel’s touchdown passes came in a 28-point first quarter for the Sooners. They set the tone early and didn’t give Tulsa a chance to get within 21 points for most of the game. 

Gabriel’s performance caught the attention of Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables, who said he thought Gabriel played “fantastic” and shared the football. 

“Dillon was incredibly accurate today and made several really good plays in tight coverage,” Venables said. “Loved that we spread the ball around. I think we had 11 different guys catch a ball today.” 

The Sooners in fact did have 11 different receivers make a catch against the Golden Hurricane, led by three receivers who posted 100-plus yard outings: Jalil Farooq, Nic Anderson and Andrel Anthony. 

Gabriel said Oklahoma did well turning short plays into chunk yardage and had “a really good tempo” putting things together. Aside from the win, Gabriel said there isn’t much time for enjoying his individial performance. 

“Unfortunately, there’s no time for that but maybe down the road,” Gabriel said. “For me, I’m just focused on continuing to get better, continuing to be ready for this team, be a great leader, be a great teammate. But I just look at it as opportunity to look back and reminisce and we’ll continue to get better at that. But yeah, all it takes is a W for me.”

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Down the road is somewhere Gabriel wants to see himself being successful and on a grander stage. 

The redshirt senior is in his second season with the Sooners and under offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. Through three games, Oklahoma has averaged 55.7 points and Gabriel has averaged 302 passing yards. 

Gabriel said “the group is the mindset” and that it’s been a collective effort so far to Oklahoma’s hot start, and he’s glad it’s showing. The Sooners have a chance to turn things around from a 6-7 season a year ago and with Gabriel in Year 2 of guiding the offensive system. 

“It’s a whole new year,” Gabriel said. “Just staying present in the moment, what it is right now, and I’m proud of our guys fighting and continuing to work through adversity at certain times that it shows itself. So it is what it is, we’re flipping the page and it’s next week for us.”