Sooners expect Dillon Gabriel to be available Friday against TCU

Sooners expect Dillon Gabriel to be available Friday against TCU

Brent Venables said Monday morning that the fifth-year quarterback will be available in the regular-season finale if he continues to progress as expected leading up to the 11 a.m. game.

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

| Nov 20, 2023, 12:05pm CST

Eli Lederman

By Eli Lederman

Nov 20, 2023, 12:05pm CST

NORMAN — Brent Venables believes Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel will be available when the Sooners play TCU at Owen Field on Friday (11 a.m., FOX). 

“Dillon and Jalil (Farooq) — feel like both those guys will, if they continue to progress throughout the week, they’ll be available this weekend,” Venables told reporters Monday morning.

Gabriel missed the second half of OU’s 31-24 win at BYU on Saturday after suffering what Venables termed an “upper-body injury” just before halftime. Freshman Jackson Arnold replaced Gabriel and guided the Sooners (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) to their ninth win of the season, burning his redshirt in 2023 in the process.

Six days later, the Sooners expect Gabriel to be back to face the Horned Frogs (5-6, 3-5) with OU still playing for an opportunity to reach the Dec. 2 Big 12 title game.

Here’s what you need to know: 

  • The Sooners were knocking on the door in a 14-14 game before halftime Saturday when Gabriel’s head slammed into the turf on a tackle from BYU’s Talan Alfrey at the Cougars’ four-yard line. Gabriel threw a third-down incompletion on the next play before kicker Zach Schmit gave OU the lead with his 23-yard field goal two plays later.
  • Following the series, Gabriel was spotted on the sideline speaking with team medical staff on the sideline. He did not return from the locker room after halftime, handing the reins over to Arnold for the final 30 minutes at Lavell Edwards Stadium.
  • Speaking after the game, Venables stayed vague on Gabriel’s injury and suggested that the fifth-year quarterback could be in contention to return against TCU: “He’s got an upper-body injury,” he said. “But think he’ll be back and available pretty quick.”
  • Venables’ optimism continued through his update Monday morning. If Gabriel returns on Black Friday it will represent his 24th start in 25 games since he joined the Sooners in 2022. Gabriel was helped out of OU’s 49-0 loss to Texas last fall after suffering a concussion the week before on a helmet-to-helmet hit at TCU. 
  • Gabriel enters the final weekend of the regular season leading the Big 12 in passing yards (3,260), touchdowns (27) and sitting second in completion percentage (69.9). The veteran passer ranks seventh nationally in touchdowns and ninth in yards.
  • Arnold delivered a steady performance in his first significant action quarterbacking the Sooners. He finished five-of-nine for 33 yards with 24 rushing yards and, crucially, no turnovers across five second-half drives. Arnold recorded a seven-yard run on the snap before Gavin Sawchuk’s game-winning rushing touchdown and connected with Jalil Farooq for the game-sealing first down later in the fourth quarter.
  • Venables on Saturday: “Jackson came in and just (did) a lot of little stuff the right way: protected the football, chewed up some yards, made good decisions, distributed it really well. Guys played well around him.”
  •  Saturday marked Arnold’s fifth appearance in 2023, dashing OU’s plan of redshirting the former five-star prospect.
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Eli Lederman reports on the University of Oklahoma for Sellout Crowd. He began his professional career covering the University of Missouri with the Columbia Missourian and later worked at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette before two years writing on the Sooners and Cowboys at the Tulsa World. Born and raised in Mamaroneck, New York, Lederman grew up a rabid consumer of the New York sports pages and an avid fan of the New York Mets. He entered sportswriting at 14 years old and later graduated from the University of Missouri. Away from the keyboard, he can usually be found exploring the Oklahoma City food scene or watching/playing fútbol (read: soccer). He can be reached at [email protected].

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