Coming into the 2011 season there might not be a school with more question marks then the Texas Longhorns. Following a 5-7 season and an even worse 2-6 in Big 12 play, Mack Brown was forced to make some major overhauls. But the big question is who is the starting quarterback will be. Garrett Gilbert was forced into the national championship game two years ago and really showed America his potential.
However, last season Gilbert was nothing like that guy that we saw in the championship game. He looked nervous at times and never stayed in the pocket long enough to let plays develop. Now Brown has stated that no one is guaranteed a starting job especially Gilbert. There are a few guys waiting for that last slip up by Gilbert to jump in and make a statement.
Garrett Gilbert was hyped up as the next great quarterback to come out of Texas, following in the shoes of guys like Colt McCoy and Vince Young. He was anything but those guys—he never seemed to get comfortable in the offense and always seemed to be on the move. He finished the season with more interceptions than touchdowns and was part of the worst team in the Mack Brown era.
Gilbert has the ability to be a great quarterback, he showed flashes of greatness in a upset win at Nebraska doing it mostly with his legs. But in games against UCLA and Kansas St. he looked like someone who hadn't played a snap in his life. The problem that I believe caused this was the lack of playing time he got his freshmen season, backing up McCoy he rarely got time even when the team was blowing out its opponents.
As of right now I would say he is the favorite to start the season but the first sign of trouble he could get the boot.
The next great McCoy? Only time will tell. He looked very good in the spring game and he was making all the throws that Gilbert couldn't. There is no one better to learn from then big brother Colt. Case seems to have a legitimate shot to take over for Gilbert and that might not be a bad thing. McCoy looked very composed in the pocket and seemed to have a good grip on the new Texas offense.
If Gilbert starts to slip up look or Texas to make a quick switch and throw McCoy in there. Another option that Texas has is to use a two quarterback system in their first game to get both guys major playing time. Though I am not in favor of it, it might be what this team needs. They need someone to step up and take control be a leader, McCoy might have that leadership in his blood.
If McCoy wins the job look for Texas to stick with him for a while and let him go through the rounds.
One of the two dark horses to win the job is Connor Wood, he was a former Army All-American and he was supposed to win the back up job out of camp last year. He was eventually beaten out by McCoy, but this spring it looks like he has a new attitude and has come out of no where. He has the ability to make tons of throws and he can move pretty well outside the pocket. Unlike Gilbert, he looks smooth running the ball and can make some moves to avoid defenders.
If Wood is going to win the job he is going to have to impress even more after the praise given out to McCoy after the spring game. He is a major dark house but he has the tools to take over this team and lead them. His arm is not as good as Gilbert but he seems to have better touch and can make some difficult throws.
Woods chance of winning the job is small but it would not surprise me to see him under center in game one.
The final player with a chance to see major playing time at quarterback is the highly touted freshmen David Ash. He is a four star recruit and many have raved about him this spring with his ability to make many of the difficult throws. His arm is strong and he moves well outside the pocket. If he is given time he can light it up and throwing on the running seems almost natural to him. He seems to have picked up the offense though i do not know how well yet.
I think his chances are rather small as of right now because the competition on the top is rather strong. He will have to show a lot in the coming weeks to have any shot at real playing time. The only way I can see him on the field in a meaningful role is if there were injuries or Mack Brown was just completely disgusted with the rest of the guys that he wanted to make a statement.
If Ash was named starter I would be truly surprised considering who he would be starting in front of.