Miami University quarterback Brett Gabbert had a successful 2021 campaign. In the ten games he started, he threw for 2,648 yards, 26 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
However, Gabbert probably wouldn’t have been honored with a Third Team All-Mid-American Conference (MAC) selection if it was not for his absolute tear at the end of the conference schedule. Although the RedHawks split the win/loss totals down the stretch, Gabbert put up historic numbers.
The four-game stretch started with two back-to-back dominant performances where he threw for the most passing yards in a two-game span in school history.
In a close road loss at Ohio, Gabbert recorded a career-high 55 passing attempts and finished with 492 passing yards (third-most in school history) and five touchdowns. In the following week, he was surgical in a blowout home victory against Buffalo, connecting on 75% of his dimes to tally 351 yards and four touchdowns.
As the leader of the offense, Gabbert understands what it means when he plays well.
“It’s always awesome to throw for a lot of touchdowns [and] throw for a lot of yards, especially as a quarterback,” Gabbert said. “Your job is to control the game. The ball is in your hands 90% of the time.”
Gabbert’s play at the end of the schedule gave the ‘Hawks a chance for a MAC title game berth. If the RedHawks had beaten Kent State in their final game, they would have been in. Unfortunately, his 405 passing yards and five total touchdowns were not enough, as he threw a game-losing incompletion during a two-point try in overtime.
Thankfully, the RedHawks season ended on a high note with a Frisco Football Classic bowl win over the University of North Texas. To help Oxford bring home its first bowl win since 2010, Gabbert, the game’s MVP, went 22/31 for 230 yards and two scores.
Going into 2022, Gabbert plans to build on last season’s success.
“I definitely made some strides in certain areas of my game that were better than my freshman and sophomore year,” Gabbert said. “Kinda looking forward to building off some of those things from last year and trying to get better throughout this upcoming season.”
The way Gabbert prepares for games did not change from his first seasons. The junior credits his age as the biggest reason for his on-the-field improvements.
“Not too much change in my routine per se,” Gabbert explained. “I think my maturity, just me getting older [and] the experience I’ve had playing in a bunch of different games. It has a big impact on myself and our offense. Especially as guys get older, we don’t get as rattled when things don’t go our way.”
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
Gabbert wants to play the best he can in every game to lead his team to victory. To have a more successful season, he aims to limit the turnovers.
“My job as a quarterback is to take care of the football, and minimizing turnovers is a key part to winning,” Gabbert said. “I would like to throw zero interceptions this year. That would be a big goal of mine.”
All eyes are on Gabbert to take the next step in his development this season. He is among the players on the pre-season Maxwell Award watch list, an honor given to the most outstanding player in college football. Additionally, he was voted as the pre-season First-Team All-MAC quarterback.
Gabbert doesn’t allow the pressure to get to him.
“There really is no added expectations or added pressure,” Gabbert said. “I just gotta go out there and be myself. I think, at the end of the day, everything will take care of itself.”
Although Gabbert would love his stat sheet to shine bright, he is a team-first player. The St. Louis, Missouri native values team wins over individual dominance.
“I always try to be a team guy,” Gabbert explained. “I love to win, but I absolutely hate to lose. I would love to go 12-0, go to the MAC championship, [and] go to a bowl game.”
A MAC championship is not an unrealistic goal. Last season, the ‘Hawks were a completed pass away from an appearance. Gabbert intends to use the loss as motivation throughout the season.
Before the RedHawks have the opportunity to compete in a conference title match, the squad has to withstand a competitive 12-opponent schedule. However, entering the season after last year’s bowl win, Gabbert believes the team has a good chance of adding to its previous success.
“[The bowl win] brings better energy,” Gabbert said. “Hopefully, we continue to build off that last win in our upcoming season.”
If Gabbert duplicates his high-level play from the end of last year throughout this season, there is a possibility that he could toss the pigskin in the NFL. With his brother, Blaine, being a former first-round pick, he has an idea of what it takes to get to the next level.
However, Gabbert focuses on the upcoming season, not his professional aspirations.
“I work really hard toward that dream,” Gabbert said. “But, at the end of the day, [it’s] not a focus of mine right now. It won’t be until this season is over. I’m just tryna be a better person [and] football player for Miami.”
Two weeks into fall camp, there is a lot of confidence in the locker room that the team can achieve more than it did last year. Gabbert can start building off last season’s success in week one, when the RedHawks travel to the University of Kentucky on Saturday, Sept. 3.