It is no easy task to fairly evaluate Garrett Gilbert's performance given the several factors outside his control. I refer here to the wretched play of the Texas O-Line, awful play calling by Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis, and the inability of Texas receivers to catch or hold on to perfectly thrown passes. Still, the most charitable analyst will be forced to acknowledge the fact that his performance has been mediocre at best.
Great Arm, Strong Pedigree, Outstanding HS Record
Garrett Gilbert has a strong arm - a very strong arm. He routinely makes flat-footed throws 30, 40 yards. and beyond. His accuracy leaves much to be desired, however. As well as he throws the long ball, he struggles in the Red Zone - choking on short passes to the end zone.
Gilbert has enjoyed the benefit of world-class coaching throughout his life. His father, Gale Gilbert, is an NFL veteran. He took responsibility for Garrett's training when young Gilbert was seven or eight years old.
Gilbert was a bonafide star at the celebrated Austin area Travis High School.
A Baptism by Fire - Alabama and the National Championship
No one, especially Garrett Gilbert expected his career with the Longhorns to begin with the National Championship game against Alabama last year. Nevertheless, that's the way it happened. Early in the first quarter of play, Colt McCoy sustained an injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the contest. Gilbert, stunned by this unexpected turn of events, was unable to locate his helmet and was slightly delayed in taking the field. He might of been better off if he had never found it.
One must credit Gilbert with an "E" for effort. In fact, he mounted a pretty good comeback effort. But, it was not to be. Texas was soundly beaten by a very good Crimson Tide team. While no one should hold it against him, Gilbert's play was never better than mediocre. Also mediocre - no, awful - was Greg Davis play calling. Gilbert was also plagued by dropped passes - a problem that persists today.
Despite a less than stellar outing, most fans were willing to give Gilbert the benefit of the doubt. I certainly was. When others criticized, I urged them not to be hasty in their evaluation of a young, very green QB who was thrust into a pressure cooker situation. " Look, I argued, give the kid a break. He was tossed into a National Championship game. Its not fair to expect him to excel right off the bat - especially in that situation."
A New Season - Hope Springs Eternal
Longhorns fans were trembling excitement by the time September rolled around. News out of Austin was that the Horns had evaluated their offense and elected to make the changes necessary to support a robust running game. In other words, Mack Brown and Greg Davis took the decision balance the offense and take some of the heat off Garrett Gilbert. Well, I doubted the veracity of this report from the start. Greg Davis likes to throw the football. Yes, he has called a low - but, perhaps reasonable - number of running plays, but the emphasis has always been on the pass. Texas, today, is known as a team with a quick-strike offense that relies on the pass to chalk up lots of points fast. Last year, Texas scored in excess of 500 points. Only one of three teams in the nation to do so. The rumors were persistent, though, and were ultimately confirmed by the coaching staff.
Because I love running football, I waited with excitement for the first contest of the year. When it finally happened, I was underwhelmed. Pass blocking was still poor. Backs had nowhere to go, and they gained few yards.
So, the heat was again squarely on young Gilbert's shoulders.
How did he respond to the challenge? He responded with poor pass accuracy, an inadequate passing percentage, and plenty of turnovers, in the air and on the ground. In short, his play has been poor. One should keep in mind too, that he was playing cream-puff opponents like Rice and Wyoming. Although the Horns prevailed in Lubbock, the Horns were terrible. Tech was worse. Both teams should have been declared losers.
The Big Daddy - Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry
Texas fans know that coaches and players are expected to do two things: Beat Oklahoma and win conference/national championships. Fans across the Longhorn Nation tend to be intolerant of those who fail to get the job done.
For those who did not witness today's contest against the Sooners, allow me to sum it up. Oklahoma completely dominated the Horns. Moreover, the Horns shot themselves in the foot time after time. Penalties were horrific and resulted in Oklahoma points more than once. The Texas D was awful in the first half. They were better in the second, but it was too little, too late.
Now for Garrett Gilbert's performance. I grade him out at a C- and I am being charitable. As usual, he was inaccurate time and again. Yes, he threw a few beautiful passes, but they were not enough to overcome the mistakes. At no time did Gilbert look like a QB who has the ability to lead a team in regular season or championship play. The fact that Greg Davis had Gilbert throwing sideways and backwards as usual, certainly contributed to the loss. But, in the end. Gilbert was simply not up to that task. Not even close.
Should Case McCoy get a shot as starting QB
In football as in life, folks who fail to perform, to execute when the game is on the line, are replaced with others who might be more capable.
I'm not ready to thrust Gilbert aside completely. I am ready, however, to give Case McCoy the ball for the next ball game or two. If he can't get the job done, I would move to the next spot on the depth chart. I have confidence in McCoy. I frankly do not believe that he could be worse than Gilbert.
I recognize that my position is controversial. I wish to state for the record that I make no pretense to expertise. I am one guy with an opinion. I believe my opinion rests on facts and evidence. I know that others will disagree.
As things stand, change - even draconian change - is required to set Texas on the path to improvement.