Garrett Gilbert started the season as the backup Quarterback in 2009, with star Colt McCoy expected to lead the Longhorns to a national title.
McCoy did his job up until the national title game, guiding the Longhorns to a perfect regular season record. Then, on the opening drive of the national championship game, Gilbert was thrust into action when Colt McCoy went down with a shoulder injury. Gilbert went on to complete 15-40 passes for 186 yards with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
The numbers for this game do not look great, but Gilbert played a nice game, even bringing the Longhorns back to within three points before they would turn the ball over.
Now in 2010, big things are expected of Gilbert, even though the offense has been shaky through the first three games. I, however, expect big things from Gilbert the rest of this season. Here are four reasons why Gilbert will lead the Horns to a national title.
1. Gilbert had a solid national championship in the spotlight last year.
Gilbert sat behind McCoy for the whole season except some garbage time action. Then when his number was called in the national championship game, although shaky, Gilbert played a solid game.
He twice found wide receiver Jordan Shipley for a touchdown, when the Horns were in desperate need of a score. One analyst pointed out the stat line did not actually show how well Gilbert played, saying, "the wide receivers dropped a number of passes that should have been caught."
As a Freshman against the number one defense in the country, he settled down and found a way to keep the Longhorns in the game. He even had the ball late in the fourth quarter with a chance to win the game.
He has proved that he can handle the pressure of the spotlight and that can prove to be huge with games coming up against Oklahoma and Nebraska.
2. He won two Texas 4A state championships in High School.
Texas State High school football is as close to college football as you can get in the high school ranks, and Gilbert led Lake Travis to two consecutive high school state championships.
His first championship he won as a Junior in 2007, leading Lake Travis to the state title. In 2008 as a senior, he led them to an undefeated season, and a second consecutive state title, while throwing for 4,851 yards and 55 touchdowns.
He was calm and collected under pressure in high school while winning two state titles, and that leads me to believe he still has that same fight in him to win a National Title in college.
3. His father, Gale Gilbert, was an NFL Quarterback.
When Garrett Gilbert needs advice on the Quarterback position, he can just look to his father Gale. Who better to give advice to an aspiring college quarterback, than a former pro quarterback.
His father was a member of five Super Bowl teams (four with the Bills and one with the Chargers). So his father knows what it is like to play on a team in a championship game, knows the atmosphere and the pressures that come with these games, and will be able to help Gilbert whenever there is an immense amount of pressure on him.
4. The Texas Longhorn Defense.
The Longhorns boast arguably the best defense in the NCAA. Led by the Acho brothers, Jackson Jeffcoat, Blake Gideon, and Curtis Brown, the Longhorns defense is a force to be reckoned with. The Longhorns defense will keep Texas in every game, meaning that Gilbert will not have to put up huge stats to win the game, he will just have to be consistent and solid. As long as the defense is playing well then the Longhorns should have a chance to win every game.
The Longhorns have the talent to make it to another national title game this year, but the question is out on Garrett Gilbert. If he is solid, then the Longhorns could have a very successful year, If not, then they could be in for a long year.
The Longhorns get UCLA this week, but after that, the schedule gets tougher with Oklahoma and Nebraska in consecutive weeks. Look for Garrett Gilbert to prove himself as a true winner in the next four weeks.
The Eyes of Texas will be upon you Garrett Gilbert.