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Texas Longhorns Football: Can Bryan Harsin Turn Garrett Gilbert into a Star?

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Texas Longhorns Football: Can Bryan Harsin Turn Garrett Gilbert into a Star?
Eric Francis/Getty Images
Garrett Gilbert celebrates a TD against Nebraska on October 16, 2010

Garrett Gilbert was a 5-star prospect coming to Austin but the 2010 season was certainly not worthy of five stars. Gilbert ended last season with 17 interceptions and was the second-worst quarterback in the Big 12, which ultimately lead to Mack Brown's decision this offseason to announce that his position was up for grabs.

Texas fans were stunned. After all, Colt McCoy was a 3-star prospect and is one of the top quarterbacks in Texas and NCAA history. Nobody thought he could overcome the pressure of succeeding Vince Young but it seems as if Gilbert has been doomed to what McCoy refused to accept.

Bad throws, sloppy mechanics, poor position play and indecision led to one of the worst seasons for a Texas team in recent memory. Now that former offensive coordinator Greg Davis has resigned, Bryan Harsin is coming to Austin to bring his high-powered Boise State offense to Texas.

What exactly has Harsin done that would lead us to think that he could save Gilbert?

He led a Boise State team to a 51-5 record in five seasons where they were consistently rated top-10 in offense. One very different aspect of his offense is that it primarily is running-based. Boise ran the ball 54 percent of the time as opposed to 47 percent for Texas last season. More emphasis on the running game can relieve some pressure on the quarterback and that has been exactly what goes on at Boise.

Bryan Harsin talks about being an offensive coordinator at Boise State

But even with a strong running game, Boise quarterbacks have lit up the scoreboards. Jared Zabransky led Boise to the unbelievable upset against Oklahoma and another nine-win season will make Kellen Moore the winningest quarterback in NCAA history, trumping McCoy.

These players were 2- and 4-star prospects respectively and were able to dominate the gridiron. Maybe it's the blue turf or maybe it's a good quarterback coach that is able to extract talent from a player and unleash it. Only time will tell. 

There is a real possibility that the problem really is Gilbert himself and that he's just not the quarterback that Texas needs under center. He might need to get more confident in the mental game while he keeps on to the experience he has as a college quarterback; coincidentally, having experience on the field will mean nothing for Harsin as he decided who to start.

Moore, a freshman in 2007, was selected as starter over another freshman and two upperclassmen at Boise and went on to do big and bold things.

The biggest concern of all would be if Gilbert is deemed as a system quarterback. He won two state championships at Lake Travis High School so we know he has talent but what if the Texas system isn't meant for him?

The best example I have of a system quarterback is former Texas Tech quarterback Steven Sheffield. He posted gaudy stats as a Red Raider in 2009, including seven touchdowns against Kansas and the winning drive in the Alamo Bowl. Sheffield was exactly the kind of quarterback you want on your team and he had a lot of supporters following the bowl game.

After Leach and his air raid offense left town, Sheffield was benched for Taylor Potts and a different offensive scheme. He posted a lower completion percentage and just wasn't as effective as he was in the previous year.

The same fate could be left for Gilbert. He very well could be benched for Connor Wood or Case McCoy and he very well could emerge as the kind of quarterback that Texas needs in this new offensive scheme. Officials have said that a decision will be made in August and until then, it's time to start the waiting game.

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