The verdict is still out on Texas Longhorns sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert.
Few doubt the young signal-caller from Lake Travis, Tex. (Austin area), has many of the raw athletic attributes that could potentially allow him to become a quality Division I quarterback.
Size. Strong arm. Escapability.
The major question lies in whether he will eventually be able to put all of these attributes together to become a leader comparable to the Texas quarterbacks who came before him and led their teams to national championship games, Colt McCoy and Vince Young.
Gilbert's numbers as a sophomore were far from flattering. He threw for a total of 2,744 yards and 10 touchdowns, completing 59 percent of his passes. The most damning stat of Gilbert's 2010 season, however, were his 17 interceptions.
While some have argued that these interceptions were largely not his fault due to passes being tipped at the line by penetrating defensive tackles and linebackers, an interception-to-touchdown ratio of almost 2:1 is never acceptable, regardless of circumstance.
Gilbert looked shaky at times in the pocket and at other times, flat-out lost. His poor 2010 performance, combined with his apparent lack of confidence, should open the door to other Longhorns quarterbacks including Case McCoy, Connor Wood and newcomer David Ash to compete for the job prior to the start of the 2011 season and during the upcoming spring practice sessions.
After all, it's hard to believe that Bryan Harsin, having few pre-conceived notions of Gilbert's ability, will immediately name him the starter without at least considering what the other quarterbacks on the roster might have to offer in a new offensive system.
If Texas can again have a productive running game with the addition of highly touted Cibolo Steele running back Malcolm Brown, some of the pressure will quickly be alleviated on whoever takes the reins of the Longhorn offense in 2011.
Texas has talked of maintaining a running focus prior to each of the past few seasons, and has yet to deliver. The 2010 running-back-by-committee rarely produced to a level that made opposing defenses actually respect the run.
If Texas can achieve offensive balance under Bryan Harsin, Gilbert may still be the right guy for the job. If the running game again fails to produce, the quarterback will need to have confidence, as he would be responsible for the majority of the offensive production.
The question lingers if Garrett Gilbert can take on this responsibility.
Could Case McCoy do so with more confidence?
Does Connor Wood have more to offer than Texas fans believe?
Texas will never know unless snaps in spring practice are distributed equally.
Look for Bryan Harsin, Major Applewhite and Mack Brown to give each of the young Longhorn signal-callers an equal opportunity to prove themselves during the spring and beyond as the team works to return things to normalcy on the Forty Acres.