Longhorns fans knew that Colt McCoy would be leaving after 2009, and would likely be replaced by Garrett Gilbert. What they didn't know is that Gilbert would be playing in the bulk of the BCS National Championship game because McCoy had left with an injury.
After a poor start, Gilbert started playing better and nearly led his team to a major comeback. If not for a sack and fumble deep in Alabama territory, Gilbert might've been able to drive the Longhorns down the field for the win.
Last night's pain may not have subsided yet for Longhorns fans, but there is one thing they should keep in mind going forward: the Longhorns can get back—and soon—with Gilbert at the helm.
There are several reasons for this. One is that the Longhorns, like any perennial BCS contender, have plenty of talent waiting in the wings.
Yes, they will lose McCoy and receiver Jordan Shipley to the draft (among others), but they have plenty of freshman, sophomores, and juniors who will now have one more year of experience under their belt.
Sure, there might be a bit of dip in production for a year or two as the young players get better, but that's inevitable—and its not likely to be a major dip, due to Texas' talented roster.
Then there's Gilbert himself. It's tough, if not impossible, to judge a player after just one game, but he showed some moxie in overcoming a bad first half to get the Longhorns back into the game.
He didn't do everything himself, of course, but the fact that he shook off his struggles and made a few plays to get his team back into the game speaks well for his maturity.
This is not to say he is better or worse than McCoy, but rather to suggest that, on his own, Gilbert has the talent to lead the Longhorns back to the promised land. He'll need experience, of course, but he can earn that by staying healthy.
Don't fret Texas fans. Gilbert can get the Longhorns back, even if it takes a year or two.