Bohls | Who’s driving the UT quarterback bus?

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Randy Maltz is a die-hard sports fan, with passion for the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Longhorns. He is Founder & Editor of Silver and Blue Report and Hook 'em Report. He still idolizes Roger Staubach and Tom Landry.
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What will Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns do at QB … Best questions in years …   Read this fantastic article!  Randy

Who’s driving the UT quarterback bus?
Kirk Bohls, Commentary
Austin American Statesman
Link Below

Big surprise.

Mack Brown did not announce his starting quarterback this week.

And he won’t do it next week or presumably the week after that.

But sometime before kickoff against Rice on Sept. 3, he will send a quarterback out for the first snap.

We think.

The fact that the Texas head coach this week declared it’s still a four-man race should tip off Longhorn Nation that he may not have a quarterback.

PHOTO:
At least, not one the staff has confidence in yet.

And that has to be both disturbing as well as puzzling to Texas fans.

“The No. 1 thing we want is leadership,” Brown said this week. “We want somebody that can get the swagger back and make sure that the rest of the kids know this person’s going to lead them to victory.”

A week before the Longhorns report, this much seems certain:

Texas has no clear-cut starter. The newness of Bryan Harsin could be a factor. Texas continues to coddle these players and shield them from a prying press and a passionate, invested fan base who buy season tickets and soft drinks and programs. August drills apparently will decide the race.

Quarterback remains one of the biggest reasons expectations remain low and hopes for a big-win season are dampened.

The advice here? Play the best player, freshman or not.

Garrett Gilbert showed too little and was given a great shot with 12 starts, not counting the title game versus Alabama, which unfortunately was the best he’s looked in his career. (Any coincidence he had Jordan Shipley to throw to?)

Case McCoy is a blank slate who excelled in the spring game, but reports of his effectiveness this summer run both hot and cold.

Connor Wood‘s future has spawned more rumors than Carson Palmer’s. Who knows where either will be in a year?

David Ash, meanwhile, is considered the savior, a true freshman with a huge upside, incredible talent but zero experience. But if he’s the best Texas has, start him, Mack.

There have been very few great teams with average quarterbacks, although everyone can come up with exceptions from the Tennessee Volunteers with Tee Martin to the Baltimore Ravens with Trent Dilfer. But those teams better have killer defenses or an electric supporting cast on offense to compensate.

The Longhorn defense, at least in the early going, will be suspect up the middle at tackle and in the secondary, necessitating a potent offense. Texas’ linebackers and defensive ends have big upsides, but three cornerbacks left, and Blake Gideon and Christian Scott are coming off subpar seasons.

That means the offense needs to be very productive from the outset, and the quarterback must be more than a caretaker who simply manages the game. Texas won’t win many games 10-7 this season.

In case you haven’t paid attention, Texas plays in a high-powered, offensive league in which the main contenders — Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M — have established, proven quarterbacks, elite receivers and strong running games.

Heck, even Baylor is promoting Robert Griffin as a Heisman candidate.

You have to know Mack Brown would loved to have emerged from the spring with a clear starter and used the entire summer to galvanize the team behind ol’ Fill in the Blank. Since that didn’t happen, it’s safe to assume Boy Wonders Harsin and Major Applewhite aren’t comfortable with any one of them yet.

Doesn’t mean it won’t happen, but the team reports in a week, and the most important position on the team has a vacancy sign above it.

When Brown was asked if he sees no separation at the position and it’s suddenly November, what would he do? “I’ll probably be a truck driver,” he cracked.

Somebody needs to drive this thing.

When a football team has two quarterbacks, common wisdom has always held it had none.

Extrapolate that further, and you could assume that if a team had three quarterbacks, it has one very big circus.

And if a team has four quarterbacks, what you have is chaos.

This has been one big mess, not unlike last season when Gilbert was throwing more interceptions than touchdowns, and those inside the Longhorn camp whispered that he didn’t have the leadership skills or the intangibles a quarterback must have. You know it as the “it” factor.

Vince Young had it.

Colt McCoy had it in spades.

Applewhite had it.

But if you think back, the Texas coaching staff had so little trust in Gilbert’s backup that five interceptions in three quarters against Kansas State weren’t enough to scare the beejesus out of them and persuade them that Case McCoy needed relevant, meaningful snaps that night.

Quite frankly, Texas wasted a year of eligibility for McCoy. Was that because it has little faith in him or because the staff was so frightened about creating a quarterback controversy in a woeful season? If it’s the latter, that’s very damning.

In 2010, McCoy was on the field for all of 11 snaps. He threw just one pass. Against Rice. It was a beauty if I remember correctly, but it’s been a while.

It’s also been a while since we’ve seen or heard from a Longhorn quarterback. Colt McCoy has been more visible than his brother or any current Texas quarterback.

That coddling has been a mistake, a misjudgment by the Texas staff that subjecting these quarterback wannabes to visibility could be more harmful than beneficial. But the contention here is that if Case McCoy or Connor Wood can’t hold up against a few tough questions from reporters, how are they going to handle a third-and-8 against Oklahoma with seconds to go? Maybe their maturity in public would be one step toward defining their progression as a leader.

We’ll never know. Almost like the starting position itself.

Connor Wood, 6-4, 220, Redshirt freshman

Bohls’ take: The QB most fans expect to transfer if he doesn’t earn his place among the top two options. He looks the part as a strong, rugged athlete who can throw the ball downfield well, but he wasn’t given much of a look in the spring game. Pretty much an open book.

David Ash, 6-3, 215, Freshman

Bohls’ take: The quarterback of the future in most eyes. A mid-term enrollee, he wowed those who have seen him in summer workouts with his leadership, presence and ability. Likely will redshirt behind three players who have more time in the program.

Garrett Gilbert, 6-4, 218, Junior

Bohls’ take: Prototypical quarterback who has size, a strong arm and running ability, but he hasn’t nailed down the starting job because of struggles with accuracy, touch and leadership. Started all 12 games last season and completed 59 percent of his passes, with 10 going for TDs and 17 being picked off. Only QB on the roster with any real game experience.

Case McCoy, 6-2, 200, Sophomore

Bohls’ take: Lost a year of eligibility in 2010, when, as Gilbert’s backup, he appeared in only two games and threw just one pass. Had the best performance, by far, of any of the three quarterbacks who played in the spring game, moving the ball against the first-string. He’s skinny and doesn’t have the strongest arm, but neither did someone else with his surname.

David Ash, 6-3, 215, Freshman

Bohls’ take: The quarterback of the future in most eyes. A mid-term enrollee, he wowed those who have seen him in summer workouts with his leadership, presence and ability. Likely will redshirt behind three players who have more time in the program.

Connor Wood, 6-4, 220, Redshirt freshman

Bohls’ take: The QB most fans expect to transfer if he doesn’t earn his place among the top two options. He looks the part as a strong, rugged athlete who can throw the ball downfield well, but he wasn’t given much of a look in the spring game. Pretty much an open book.

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