Quinn Ewers and #3 Texas vs Dillon Gabriel and #12 Oklahoma

Ewers has been on everyone’s radar since his transfer from Ohio State to Texas last year, and the ensuing Longhorn upset of Alabama 34-24 earlier this year. He has his Longhorns sitting at 5-0 and ranked #3 going into the last installment of the Red River Shootout prior to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC next season.

Hawaii 5-0!

While most fans are following Ewers’ success at Texas in 2023, many are not aware of what Dillon Gabriel has been up to at Oklahoma. Gabriel attended Mililani High in Mililani, Hawaii and enrolled out of HS at the University of Central Florida. In 2019 he started 12 games as a true freshman, leading the Knights to a 10-3 record and a Bowl win. His sophomore season saw the Knights fall to 6-4, and early in his junior year he suffered a broken clavicle that would end his season.

In January of 2022, Dillon announced he would be transferring to Oklahoma. He joined the new head coach, Brent Venables (Clemson) in their first season as Sooners. It was a painful growth year. Venables, the master of Clemson’s defense for a decade, struggled with scheme and personnel his rookie year in Norman as the Sooners gave up a whopping 30+ points per game. The offense under Gabriel was effective at times, but couldn’t prevent Oklahoma’s first losing season since 1998. The team lost 4 of their last 5 and converted only 40.9% of 3rd downs which ranked 50th in the country.

A Surprise Angel Named Gabriel

Where Oklahoma didn’t fall short was recruiting. An influx of blue-chip players has shored up the Sooners’ defense to Venables-type numbers in 2023. Oklahoma is currently ranked 30th in team defense, which has taken some pressure off of Gabriel and the offense. The Sooners are ranked #9 in total offense averaging over 500 yds per game. Dillon Gabriel, all 5’11” of him, is ranked #6 in passing efficiency (Ewers is #21) and #4 in TD passes with 15 vs only 4 Ints. Additionally, Gabriel is ranked #6 in the country on 3rd down conversions with an impressive .552 success rate. That is helping to keep the Oklahoma defense off the field.

This rivalry has been played in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas as a “neutral” site since 1932. The teams have played every year since 1929 with Texas leading the series 63-50-5. Last year the Longhorns blew it out 49-0 to retain the Golden Hat, which is a gold ten-gallon hat. In that game Quinn Ewers threw for 289 yards, 4 TDs and one pic. Dillon Gabriel did not play in the game thanks to a targeting foul the previous week vs TCU, which put the QB in the concussion protocol and on the bench vs the Longhorns. Gabriel is healthy this year and arguably out-playing his Texas rival. With these two gun-slingers facing off this should be one exciting shootout. I like Sooners in an upset.

Brady Cook and #21 Missouri vs Jayden Daniels and #23  LSU

Brady Cook is not exactly a household name on the national QB landscape, but, that may change quickly. He was an “under the radar” 3 star prospect out of Chaminade College Prep in Creve Coeur, Missouri. He would redshirt his freshman year (2021) and started 2022 as the backup to Connor Bazelak. But, Brady would take over at QB1 following a Bazelak injury and start 13 games going 6-7 while completing 64% of his passes for 14 TDs vs 7 Ints. Cook also demonstrated he can beat you with his legs logging 585 yards rushing with an additional 6 TDs.

Cookin’ with Gas!

Building on the 2022 experience, Cook has dazzled in 2023 as the Tigers are 5-0. Brady Cook is completing 72% of his passes for 11 TDs and zero interceptions. The first real test comes this week vs #23 LSU, a team with its own brilliant QB, but licking its wounds after losses to Florida State and last week to Ole Miss. In the Mississippi game, QB Jayden Daniels completed 27 of 36 for 414 yards and 4 TDs with zero pics. Even that wasn’t enough to win the game, as Ole Miss put 55 pts on the board thanks to yet another brilliant SEC QB; Jaxson Dart (more on Dart later).

LSU and Daniels will be facing the Missouri Tigers in Memorial Stadium this week. It’s a must-win game for both teams.  LSU still has Alabama and Texas A&M to deal with in the SEC West, while Missouri’s SEC East schedule gets tougher with undefeated Kentucky and Georgia still downstream. This game is set up as a classic offensive battle. Both QBs are in the top 6 in the country in passing efficiency. If Brady Cook can win this game, he will ascend to the upper echelon of the nation’s FBS QBs. Jayden Daniels is already in that club, and has no intention of relinquishing his hard-earned status. I’m copping out. This game is a toss-up between one established star and one aspiring second-year starter. Look for all kinds of fireworks Saturday on Faurot Field. Go Tigers!! (I know, complete cop-out)

More Emerging FBS QBs:


Tyler Van Dyke, Miami

Van Dyke has been up (2021), then down (2022), and now back up in 2023. He is ranked #2 in the country in passing efficiency and has the Hurricanes sitting at 4-0 as they host Georgia Tech this week in Miami. At 6’4” and 225 lbs, he’ll be on NFL watch lists if he can continue to demonstrate the consistency he has shown through the season’s first four games. In his first big test vs Texas A&M, Tyler stepped up in the 48-33 win by completing 21 of 30 for 374 yards and 5 TDs. Tech has stopped no one in 2023 and replaced their DC just this week. Look for Tyler and the #17 Hurricanes to continue the roll. With UNC, Clemson and Florida State still downstream, Van Dyke will have plenty of opportunity to display his talent.

Cameron Ward, Washington State

Ward is a former FCS QB at Incarnate Word who transferred to the Cougars in 2022. After posting 4,648 yards and 47 TD passes in 2021 at Incarnate, it was time for the portal, and Cam ended up at Washington State. In the past two seasons he was 24-12 as the starter and has Washington State 4-0 after their big win vs the only other Pac 12 survivor next year, Oregon State. At #9 in national passing efficiency, Cam is completing passes at a 74% clip with 13 TD passes and zero pics! That is correct, zero! If he keeps up this pace you will see tons of Cam as the Cougars still have UCLA, Oregon, Colorado, and Washington on the schedule.

Jaxson Dart, Mississippi

Jaxson has been on the national stage longer than most of those listed above. Coming out of Draper, Utah, Dart was a Gatorade Football Player of the Year and passed for a state record 67 TDs with only 4 pics. Yes, that was just his senior year, not career numbers. He also ran for 1,195 yards and 12 TDs. So naturally, Dart signed with… Of course, Southern Cal. But in 2021 Jaxson was caught in the middle of some sensational play, like the 391 yards passing in his debut vs Washington State that set the record for most passing yards in a QB debut, and, the firing of head coach Clay Helton in mid-season. When Lincoln Riley got the head job and was rumored to be bringing his Oklahoma QB, Caleb Williams, with him to Southern Cal, Jaxson hit the Portal.

2022 was a good but not great year for Ole Miss and Jaxson Dart. The team finished 8-5 but lost 4 of their last 5. The offense averaged 33.5 pts per game, but increased turnovers and lackluster Red Zone performance (99th nationally) kept wins below double digits. This year the team is at 4-1, and rebounded nicely from the Alabama loss (24-10) two weeks ago by running and passing over LSU 55-49 last week. In that game Jaxson Dart was 26 of 39 for 389 yards and 4 TD passes. He also ran for 50 yards on 7 carries and another TD. For the season, Dart is ranked #15 in QB efficiency and has a chance to run the table if the Rebels can get through one big hurdle: Georgia on November 11. Look for Dart to have piled up more wins and a ton of completions by the showdown with the Bulldogs.


Next up – Which has the better QBs:

the SEC or the PAC 12?

Share it!