The Eyes of Texas Are Upon the Longhorns, Garrett Gilbert in 2010

Marlin TerryContributor IApril 6, 2010

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Quarterback Garrett Gilbert #3 of the Texas Longhorns drops back to pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the Citi BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

All eyes were on sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert heading into the University of Texas' Orange-White game this past Sunday. 

Among the many question marks that the 2010 Longhorn football team has, the one at the forefront of all of the burnt orange faithful's thoughts is: How will this football team fare without Colt McCoy taking the snaps?

For those that might be worried about the young quarterback's progression, rest easy Longhorn fans.  If Sunday was any kind of indication to how Gilbert will perform going forward, the future looks very bright in Austin.

In his first live action as the offense's unquestioned leader, Gilbert showed off his accuracy in going 10-for-13 for 165 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. 

He hit on a variety of short to intermediate passes, and also showed the ability to throw the ball deep. 

Gilbert showed that he was able to look off safeties, read through his progressions, and even check-down to his backs and tight ends.  He displayed poise in the pocket and looked confident in his new leadership role.

In other words, Gilbert was the best player on the field on Sunday.

"Garrett Gilbert is very smart," said head coach Mack Brown after the scrimmage. "He makes very few mistakes and he’s very accurate with his passes.

"The team trusts him. They think he is the guy and at his age and not starting a game before, that’s pretty impressive for him."

With a new quarterback takings snaps, many have also wondered if the offensive scheme would get a face lift for the upcoming season. 

Coaches have stressed all spring that they wanted to come out and establish a reliable downhill running attack, while maintaining the success they've had in the passing game. 

That commitment could be seen in the first offensive drive of the scrimmage.

In a rare sight for Longhorn fans, Gilbert took snaps from under center and ran the ball on each play of the first offensive series. 

The series ended on the sixth play from scrimmage after the defense stuffed a fourth and two attempt, but the tone had been set for the day.

The two offenses combined for over 200 yards on the ground. 

Running backs Tre' Newton and Jeremy Hills were both excellent catching balls out of the backfield, but it was freshman Chris Whaley that was most effective carrying the ball. 

The 260-pound back ran for 70 yards on 14 carries.  He ran strong between the tackles and showed patience in waiting for holes to open before he burst through them.  Whaley also exhibited a little speed for a big back in breaking off a couple nice runs after bouncing them outside.

The offensive line showed that they have made strides in the spring.  The first-teamers were great in pass protection, giving Gilbert all day to sit in the pocket and go through his reads. 

While run-blocking was not quite as strong, the big guys up front had a fair amount of success in opening up some holes for the backs. 

The O-Line struggled early in a few short yardage situations against the first-team defense, but that should be expected against a group that was ranked first in the country last season in that category.

There was good and bad news at the receiver position.  The unheralded DeSean Hales was outstanding in the scrimmage, most notably on his 41-yard catch-and-run over the middle of the field for a touchdown.

And the 'Horns might have finally found a pass-catching tight end in Barrett Matthews. 

Matthews scored the game's first touchdown on a play-action pass from Gilbert.  He also converted on a couple of third-down passes, including a check-down in which he shook off a defender and scampered for 13 yards.

Malcolm Williams, the only expected starter at receiver that suited up on Sunday, had a single memorable play and it came on a 13-yard reverse. 

Neither John Chiles (injury) nor Marquise Goodwin (track) suited up for Sunday's game, so the Longhorns will break camp with some questions remaining at the receiver position. 

The talent is on campus.  But they need to start putting it together before the young crop of talented freshman get to the 40 acres in June.

On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Kheeston Randall showed that he will be a capable replacement to Lamarr Houston.  Randall played a big role in defending the run, stuffing some of the offense's early attempts.  He even got to the quarterback on a play that would have been a sack in a regular game.

Cornerback Aaron Williams was outstanding in coverage and made his case to be on the  return team come September.  Along with Curtis Brown, the duo will be among the nation's elite.

Safeties Kenny Vacarro and Christian Scott both had solid afternoons, and it looks like there will be a position battle between the two in a fight to take the spot vacated by Earl Thomas.

And now, we must wait.  Wait to see if the transformation that Gilbert and the rest of the offense has made will continue to improve and if it will be successful in the fall. 

Wait to see if the talented group of receivers on campus will solidify starting positions, or if they will be pushed by the incoming freshman phenoms. 

And we must wait to see which players will step up and replace the playmakers on defense.

For college football fans, these next five months will most certainly be long and agonizing.  But from the looks of this past Sunday, it should be worth the wait for Longhorn fans.


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