Season Preview: Quarterbacks

2010 in Review: Like pretty much every position on the offense, the quarterbacks had an awful 2010. I shouldn’t really make that plural because only three passes thrown last year did not come from Garrett Gilbert (and two of those were from a running back!). After being unfairly thrown to the wolves in the National Championship game against Alabama, Everyone thought Gilbert actually performed well for someone thrust into that position and were looking forward to 2010 with a whole year of practice as the No. 1 QB under his belt. One 5-7 season later (and don’t forget those 17 interceptions) and people couldn’t get off the Gilbert band wagon fast enough. With longtime Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis resigned fired, Gilbert remains as the lone whipping boy if the Texas offense sputters again this season. That’s a log of pressure, but hey, this is Texas football. You don’t come here to play QB unless you want the brightest lights shining on you.

Key Returner: Even after all the struggles last season, a supposed “open” quarterback battle and months of practice the depth chart for Rice still reads the same. Gilbert 1, Case McCoy 2. Gilbert has the experience, and that seems to be the biggest reason for Mack’s decision to start him. Doesn’t really instill a whole lot of confidence in me. I probably would have rather heard ‘Gilbert really stepped up as the unquestioned leader of this team’ ‘his passes are on target  and he’s showing a lot of confidence in the pocket’ or ‘he’s limiting his mistakes and his decision-making has vastly improved.’ Nope, he’s getting the nod because he’s done this whole college quarterbacking thing before and the other guys haven’t. Something tells me though that the leash will be short and Mack won’t hesitate to get someone else a little experience.

Player to Watch: This wouldn’t be a true quarterback battle unless we were fawning over the latest recruit that hasn’t sniffed a college field yet. That player this year is David Ash. According to reports from camp, Ash has shown a lot of confidence and leadership as a true freshman. Early reports even had Ash pulling ahead in the four-man race for starting QB, and at the very least it is thought that a special package of plays has been put together featuring the Belton product. One sign of good things for Ash is that Connor Wood has decided to transfer, following in the footsteps of guys like Jevan Snead and G.J. Kinne. If Ash does not see the field as a QB this year, there is still the possibility he may fill in as punter (he’s currently tied on the depth chart for second-string duties). Fake punt anyone?

For the Quarterbacks to be successful, the need to … limit turnovers. I don’t really care who is under center this year. As long as they can stay upright and not throw interceptions, they are alright with me. Not to say that all Texas needs to be successful this year is to have a game manager at QB (a la Trent Dilfer with the Baltimore Ravens), but whoever starts at the very least needs to be able to do that. Expect to see a lot of running plays in the first few games until the quarterback(s) get more comfortable in this new Harsin/Applewhite offense. Like anything else, it’ll take time. Unfortunately for the QB, patience is not a virtue when it comes to Texas football fans.

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