Nov 11, 2023; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Drake Stoops (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the second half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Sooner Recap: Welcome to the Gabriel and Stoops Show

The Oklahoma Sooners responded in a big way last weekend, drubbing the West Virginia Mountaineers 59-20. The Sooner offense gained 644 yards of total offense and averaged 8.3 yards per play. On the other side of the ball, the defense also returned to their early season form, holding the Mountaineers to 330 offensive yards and hauling in two interceptions. Oklahoma was firing on all cylinders and turned in one of the most complete performances of the season. They moved to 8-2 on the year, and remain in a four-way tie for second place in the Big 12.

Welcome to the Gabriel and Stoops Show

Senior quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 423 yards and five touchdowns while running for another 50 yards and three scores. His eight touchdowns set a school record for most touchdowns accounted for in a game.

Senior wide receiver Drake Stoops also had a phenomenal game, catching ten passes for a career-best 164 yards and three touchdowns. This marks the second week he’s set a career-high in receiving yards. He now leads the Big 12 in receptions and touchdowns and is fifth in receiving yards.

Gabriel and Stoops put on an excellent show for the fans in Norman, Oklahoma and were in perfect sync the whole game. The two of them have had excellent rapport all season, and they are both playing their best football of the season as the year winds down and the path to the championship game becomes more evident.

The Rest of the Offense

Even without Gabriel and Stoops, the Sooners’ offense played well. The offensive line opened up great holes for freshman running back Gavin Sawchuk, who ran for 135 yards and 6.1 yards per carry. 

Freshman wide receiver Nic Anderson also stretched the defense with huge chunk plays and finished with 119 receiving yards on four catches. He now leads the country in receiving yards per catch with 25.7. Senior tight end Austin Stogner also had his best game of the season with 69 yards and caught a touchdown.

After offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and his unit were criticized for their performances the last few weeks, they played up to their potential in this game. The difference seemed to be in Gabriel’s success throwing the ball. He attempted 36 passes and completed almost 64% of them. He also scrambled effectively in this game, something he didn’t do against Oklahoma State. Now, he, Lebby and the rest of the offense just have to keep building on this positive momentum.

The Return of OU’s Dominant Defense

After four straight weeks of subpar play from Brent Venables’ defense, they finally returned to form and completely shut down the West Virginia offense. They held Mountaineers’ junior quarterback Garrett Greene to under 50% passing, 154 passing yards, and didn’t allow him much in the run game. The Oklahoma defense also collected eight tackles for a loss and didn’t allow any player to gain over 79 yards.

Junior linebacker Danny Stutsman returned from injury and while he wasn’t his typical explosive self, he still led the team in tackles, including two for loss. Junior defensive back Billy Bowman was second in tackles and disruptive in the secondary, breaking up a pass that led to an interception. Freshman linebacker Kip Lewis and sophomore defensive back Robert Spears-Jennings also made impact plays and the defense looked fantastic. 

On to BYU

In pursuing a possible Big 12 Championship game berth, the Sooners travel to Provo, Utah, to take on the 5-5 BYU Cougars. Oklahoma is favored by over three touchdowns, but the Cougars are still no pushover, so OU must come ready to play. The Gabriel and Stoops connection should stay strong, and with another week to recover, Stutsman should also return to his dominance.

Main Image: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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