Blog Entry

Spring Practice Primer: Texas

Posted on: February 22, 2011 5:02 am
Edited on: February 23, 2011 8:54 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Texas which begins its spring practice on Thursday.

Spring Practice Question: Is Garrett Gilbert really in danger of losing the starting job?

Last month, Texas head coach Mack Brown declared the Texas quarterback position to be wide open. It seems that after a less than stellar performance from Garrett Gilbert in his first season as a starter, along with plenty of coaching turnover in Austin, Brown isn't ready to hand the job over to just anybody.

Of course, whether he truly meant it or not, we'll begin to find out on Thursday when the Longhorns begin spring practice.

If I had to lean in one direction, I'd believe Brown, but only with the understanding that the job is still Gilbert's to lose. Whether or not Gilbert was successful in 2010, he still has more experience than either Connor Wood or Case McCoy. The true wild card in all of this, however, is the addition of Bryan Harsin as Texas' co-offensive coordinator (Major Applewhite being the other co-coordinator, though something tells me Harsin wasn't brought in from Boise to defer to Applewhite).

Harsin comes from Boise State, and has no favorites amongst the quarterback trio. Gilbert may have started all 12 games for Texas last season, but he did so under Greg Davis and with Greg Davis' plays, so in that sense he's on the same ground floor that both Wood and McCoy are.

Still, this spring could be the deciding factor for Gilbert. If he can show a strong grasp of Harsin's offense over the next few weeks, he can begin to put the job on lockdown. If he struggles, then things will be a lot more interesting this fall, as both McCoy or Wood could wrestle the job away from him.

The most important thing that Gilbert will have to do to earn Harsin's trust, and make better decisions in the pocket. While Garrett was able to make enough plays with his arm and legs last season to tally 3,124 yards and 15 touchdowns, it was the 17 turnovers that most people will remember.

17 turnovers that had an awful lot to do with Texas finishing the season 5-7 and missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 1997. That cost John Mackovic his job as head coach in Austin, and though Mack survived, that fate may still befall Gilbert.

There is reason to believe that Gilbert will be able to cut down on the mistakes. First of all, he'll be a junior in 2011, and with a year of experience under his belt, he'll be a smarter player. Plus, there's some history to look at with quarterbacks under Harsin.

In 2008, as a freshman, Kellen Moore started every game for Boise State and threw 10 interceptions. Over the next two seasons, Moore only threw 9. 

Another reason to believe that Gilbert will improve in 2011 is that his receiving corps will get better as well. Mike Davis -- who caught 47 passes as a freshman -- will be another year older, another year better, and his play could go a long way in improving the performance of his quarterback. Whether that quarterback is Gilbert, McCoy or Wood. If Malcolm Williams and Darius White can start to reach their potential, life will be a lot easier as well.

At the end of the day, I think Gilbert will leave spring practice as the team's starter, and he'll be under center when Texas opens its season against Rice on September 3. He may have had a bad season in 2011, but the truth of it is that he's just more talented than both McCoy or Wood. So unless he has a flat-out awful performance this spring, I just don't see him losing the gig.

Of course, I didn't see Texas going 2-6 in the Big 12 last season, either. So who knows what will happen?

Since: Oct 24, 2006
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:19 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Texas

By the way, if you were to ask which coaching staff improved more in the off-season, hands down the answer would be....

Brigham Young, then Texas and then UCLA.  BYU moved Brandon Doman from QB Coach into the OC position, brought in all-time CFL Pass Cather Ben Cahoon (BYU Class of 93) in as Wide Receiver Coach, Moved exceptional offensive coach Lance Reynolds to coach TE's and got an exceptional skill coach on DuPaix to take over Running Backs.  BYU's runners have always been good, but with their talent and better fundamental skill training, they could be dominant either catching the ball out of the backfield of carrying it across the line of scrimmage.

Texas gets a big lift w/Bryan harsin coming over from Boise State.  However there may be some difficult chemistry to mesh out in the early going with Applewhite sharing OC duties.  This could be an exceptional staff, but the trap for Mack Brown is getting everyone in sync come opening day.  In BYU's case, there is a sort of "system" chemistry that has always existed and that staff will gel quickly.  Cahoon, Doman are former Cougars and newcomer DuPaix is disciplined coming in from the Naval Academy where running the ball is all they do.  BYU will really improve fundamentally right away - a scarry thought since most people would look at the staff during the last 5 years and think they were pretty good.  They got markedly better overnight with these changes.  Texas does not have the same "system" history that BYU does and could struggle as the new staff get used to working with one another.  Texas did not get the talent recruited to play to it's ability last year.  Texas underachieved all year.  This will be a watershed year for Mack Brown as well as Rick Neuheisel over at UCLA.  As for Bob Stoops, wel Oklahoma is....uh...still going to be Oklahoma.

Since: Oct 15, 2006
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:10 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Texas

Jedi - That awesome Oklahoma team that needed every conceivable Texas mistake to win 28-20 last year? Keep dismissing Texas. I hope your football team does too. We'll just throw you a surprise party in Dallas this year.

I honesty don't care which QB comes away with the starting job as long as they protect the ball. With Brown running the ball and receivers everywhere that can kill you, Texas' offense just needs a caretaker at QB. The D is going to be MUCH improved. Too much talent on both sides of the ball to think Texas won't rebound. Unless you're a Sooner fan, of course...

Since: Oct 24, 2006
Posted on: February 22, 2011 9:07 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Texas

FB Primers should always begin with who's on schedule.  Texas opens with Rice...puffing them should be no problem.  But three of the next four teams are very capable foes.  BYU returns 10 of 11 starters on offense and the core of a defense that dominated opponents over the final eight games last year.  Cougars will be extremely good.  UCLA dumped Norm Chow (a blessing) and should also be capable of defeating the Longhorns at home in Pasadena.  Iowa State is, well.....Iowa State, but then you get Oklahoma, most likely a top 5 team and like BYU, enormously talented and deep. Yes Texas could start off 5-0, but do not be surprised if they start off 2-3 either.  Brigham Young is 7-1-0 lifetime against Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma.   The Bruins and PAC-10 teams in general have had a lot of success against SEC and BIG-12 teams in the last two decades, UCLA winning at Texas last year. Oklahoma is, well...Oklahoma. If Texas can come out of those games 3-2 or better, I think Mack Brown will have done a pretty good coaching job. Watch BYU open up against Old Miss.  If they win down there, they will believe in themselves enough to win in Austin. UCLA will be at home and Oklahoma is...wel....Oklahoma.

Member FWAA 1982 - Present

Since: Sep 10, 2008
Posted on: February 22, 2011 4:39 pm

Spring Practice Primer: Texas

Texas is looking GREAT coming into the 2011 season!  You're dead on about the receiving corps too, the other commentators don't know anything about the talent at Texas.  Sounds like a bunch of Sooner hillbillies have crawled their stinky selves into the commenting board again...

Mack is very smart to keep the QB competition open to put some fire under Gilbert's behind!  I see Texas making huge strides with this new AND IMPROVED coaching staff. They will win 5 or 6 more games next years just based on the fact that they have a new Offensive Coordinator who knows what the hell he is doing.

Texas IS THE place to be in college football, and every recruit knows that.  Austin >>>>>> Norman, Texas will win the BIG 12 next year, and for many more years to come

Since: Oct 14, 2007
Posted on: February 22, 2011 10:10 am

Spring Practice Primer: Texas

You're dead on about the confusion in Mack Brown's head AND the blame.  

This circus is all about Brown's arrogance, defiance and self-entitlement THINKING that Texas was above all and holier than THOU.   This is a egotisical individual who didn't admit HIS failure but stood there and watched the bullets hit his coaches instead of standing up and taking one.   Only AFTER all the shooting was done, did he say anything.

What really gets me is WHY any recruit would consider wasting their time at this school.   They have little to offer in terms of comparison to OU when it comes to WINNING!   Look at Stoops' record compared to Mack's.    Look at the history of conference championships, national titles, Heisman winners, etc., etc. over the years of these two schools.   There really is NO comparison.   OU perenially competes for the title game.   Texas competes for 2nd place behind OU.   C'mon you recruits, smarten up and really LOOK at where you're going!

P.S.   The only decision it feels as though Mack is capable of making is which red nose to put on for his circus today.   You're right, he's lost the ship, he's destroyed confidence and the rats are beginning to jump.   Way to go out for the Gators shortly.

Since: Oct 14, 2007
Posted on: February 22, 2011 10:02 am

Spring Practice Primer: Texas

Texas' receiving corps will be improved?   Better?   Put the crack pipe away Fornelli......

This team has exactly ZERO, NONE, NADA, NO playmakers on offense.   It has no quality wide receivers that would even be close to considered a number one target.   Davis MAY be a number two and the others are completely worthless.

The tight end position doesn't exist at Texas.

And the running backs are worse than the stock market from 08-10.   None of them are worth their weight.  

This team better hope that Brown is as good as advertised because they have NOTHING on offense.   OU's defense is gonna lay waste to this offense.

Pack your bags Mack..........

Since: Nov 19, 2006
Posted on: February 22, 2011 8:35 am

Spring Practice Primer: Texas

This sounds as if Mack Brown is unsure which co-offensive coordinator is actually going to run the show.  Why he kept Major Applewhite is anyones guess, but it is highly unlikely that it was for his coaching ability.  This can only spell trouble for Texas.  Co-offensive Coordinators rarely works, unless each coach has specific assigned duties, ala Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian at USC.  This sounds like Mack Brown is totally confused.  By declaring the Quarterback position wide open, Brown has destroyed any confidence that Golbert may have had, after a shambles of a season.  The fact is that a lack of a running game had more to do with the offensive collapse of Texas than Gilbert did.  Leave it to Mack Brown to look for excuses and balme his Quarterback instead of putting the blame where it belongs, on himself.

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