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What are expectations of Dillon Gabriel with Oregon football heading into 2024?

New Oregon football quarterback Dillon Gabriel decided to take his talents to Eugene after having spent three seasons at UCF (2019-2021) and two seasons at Oklahoma (2022-23). Oregon is fresh off having played in the final Pac-12 Championship Game despite a losing effort, but what can Gabriel bring to the Ducks in his final season of eligibility?

Gabriel stands at 5-foot-11, 204-pound and was a three-star recruit coming out of high school. He is known to have a quick release when throwing the football, solid athleticism which makes him a threat on the ground, and solid ball placement.

At UCF, Gabriel started in 23 games for the Knights and accumulated a combined 8,017 passing yards and 70 touchdowns while having completed 62.3 percent of his passes, respectively. Gabriel then transferred to Oklahoma after the departures of former Oklahoma quarterbacks Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler.

The former three-star recruit led the Sooners to an overall 16-8 record across his two-season tenure in Norman, Okla. While at Oklahoma, Gabriel tossed for 6,828 yards and 55 touchdowns while having completed 68.5 percent of his passes. Additionally, he earned first-team and second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2022 and 2023, respectively. The highlight of Gabriel's tenure as a Sooner was the 2023 Red River Rivalry game against rival Texas Longhorns.

Despite winning arguably the most entertaining game of 2023, the Sooners struggled the next three games in a hard fought win against UCF and suffered two consecutive losses to then-unranked Kansas and Oklahoma State. The rough three-game stretch basically soured any hopes for the Sooners to make the College Football Playoff, but it still finished the season 10-2. Gabriel opted out of playing in Oklahoma's bowl game (Alamo) against Arizona and shortly after had committed to Dan Lanning's Ducks.

Gabriel voiced his decision to leave Oklahoma in large part due to the departure of former Oklahoma offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jeff Lebby. He spent two seasons with the Sooners before having accepted the head coaching job at Mississippi State. The former Oklahoma offensive coordinator led the Sooners to No. 33 in total offense in 2022 and then No. 3 in 2023, a major leap across two seasons. Gabriel stated that he and Lebby had a strong relationship on and off the field and thought about joining Lebby in Starkville, but ultimately decided Oregon was the best fit.

Gabriel is now the successor to former Oregon quarterback Bo Nix, who had two prolific seasons for Oregon football. Nix across his tenure at Oregon had a combined 8,101 yards, 74 touchdowns and having completed 74.6 percent of his passes. Nix had a 22-5 record as a starter for the Ducks and was a heisman finalist in 2023. Oregon football played in the final Pac-12 title game against Washington, but couldn't get past Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. and Co.

The Oregon offense averaged 44.2 points per game along with an average of 7.8 yards per play in 2023, respectively. The 2023 campaign was the first season that former Louisville quarterback and current Oregon offensive coordinator Will Stein had control of the Ducks offense. Under Stein, the Ducks finished the 2023 season ranked second in the nation in total offense.

As a former quarterback, Stein can certainly aid Gabriel and instill knowledge as he reaches his sixth season as a college quarterback.

Additionally, even though with the departure of star wideout Troy Franklin (NFL draft), the Ducks have an immense talent of pass-catchers. Former Texas A&M wideout Evan Stewart recently committed to the Ducks after having posted a stat line of 38 receptions for 514 yards in 2023. Stewart is a former five-star recruit and is dangerous after the catch. Tez Johnson, who transferred from Troy, is another solid weapon for Gabriel as the 2024 season approaches. Johnson tallied 86 catches for 1,182 yards in 2023 and can also be used as an effective special teams asset (20 punt returns, 190 punt return yards). The Ducks will also have Traeshon Holden (six touchdowns and 37 receptions in 2023) and Gary Bryant Jr. (259 return yards, 442 reception yards in 2023) returning to Eugene in 2024.

In the backfield, Oregon speedster Noah Whittington returns to the Ducks after having suffered an injury that allowed him to play only four games last season. He can be described as a ball of energy, as he stands at 5-foot-8 but rushes with impressive power. Rusher Jordan James averaged 7.1 yards per carry in 2023 and is effective in short yardage situations. Even though former Oregon halfback Bucky Irving declared for the NFL draft, the Oregon backfield will still be primed with talent in 2024.

Gabriel will have one last season to improve his stock prior to the 2025 NFL Draft. Oregon football is a program that has high expectations and after having a successful campaign in 2023, Gabriel will be expected to continue that success as Oregon heads to the Big Ten.

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