Sooners Praise Gabbert, Acknowledge Challenge

NORMAN, Okla. — If you think the No. 1 Sooners aren't aware of the challenge Missouri junior quarterback Blaine Gabbert presents for them this weekend in Columbia, Mo., think again.

"He's a great athlete, knows how to make plays, a tough kid," said OU free safety Quinton Carter. "He's a competitor, knows how to win."

Middle linebacker Tom Wort complimented him similarly, while also recognizing his intelligence in the pocket.

"He's a good quarterback, big guy, can throw the ball good," Wort said. "You know, he's smart, so, you know, he's a good quarterback."

Strong safety Jonathan Nelson added to that.

"Man, I just, you know, [think he's got a] strong arm, you know, precise," Nelson said. "I don't really know where to start or where to end. You know, he's just a really good quarterback. You know, I sort of sound like I'm rambling on, but I don't really know where to go. He's just really good. He can throw every single pass."

Not all quarterbacks can, even though they may have the ability.

"A lot of the times you say, ‘Hey, you know, a quarterback has this big arm. He has a big arm,' but it doesn't translate because he'll make dumb decisions," Nelson said. "But he doesn't. He makes really good decisions and he puts the ball where the ball needs to be."

So, the Sooners will clearly have to take him out of his rhythm and force him into mistakes if they want to be successful defensively.

"Hopefully we can just get him off kilter, get him, you know, on his back foot and hopefully make some bad decisions here and there, and that will be really good for us," Nelson said.

It starts with pressure and flushing him out of the pocket.

"Man, that's always the big thing," Nelson said. "Like, no matter how good the quarterback is--you've seen Peyton Manning get pressure on himself and that will rattle him some way, and he'll throw a pick or what not. If you can get some type of pressure on the quarterback, that'll help out the secondary so much. And if we can somehow, you know, get to the Missouri passing game and, you know, blitz him somehow or get some pressure on him with the D-linemen somehow, then that will help us out so much."

Otherwise, the 6-foot-5, 235 lb., signal caller from Ballwin, Mo., will have a good chance to do what he's done so far, throwing for nearly 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns to only three interceptions.

And that's what the Sooners hope to avoid.

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