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Berry Tramel: Quarterback remains a question mark at Texas

by Berry Tramel Modified: July 26, 2011 at 9:25 am •  Published: July 25, 2011

DALLAS — Mack Brown says ball security is not the No. 1 priority in the Longhorn quarterback race.

Quite a statement for a football coach whose team committed 30 turnovers, leading to a 5-7 season in 2010. But that's what Mack said about the Brown Derby.

“The No. 1 thing we want is leadership,” Brown said Monday during Big 12 Media Days. “We want somebody that can get the swagger back and make sure that the rest of the kids know that this person's going to lead them to victory.”

Uh-oh. That sounds like bad news for Garrett Gilbert.

Swagger fled the Longhorns last autumn, when Texas lost home games to UCLA, Iowa State, Baylor, OSU and Texas A&M. Confidence in the quarterback went, too.

Gilbert threw 17 interceptions with just 10 touchdown passes. How is Gilbert supposed to grow confidence in the troops after a performance like that?

“Good question,” Brown said with a sigh. “It's a complicated issue.”

Now, Texas has a drama rarely seen in college football. An incumbent quarterback in danger of losing his job.

Sophomore Case McCoy (yep, Colt's brother), redshirt freshman Connor Wood, even true freshman David Ash are in the hunt. After the fiasco of 2010, don't count out anyone who can take a snap.

Brown still defends Gilbert, and there's some merit to such a stance.

Texas hasn't had a running game since Jamaal Charles turned pro after the 2007 season. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis clung to a system ill-equipped for Gilbert's dropback talents, costing Davis his job. Bevo playmakers in general were in short supply.

“I don't think you can go back to a (solitary) player when we played as poorly as we played,” Brown said. “I think it starts with me, our coaches. You coach players not to turn the ball over. You coach players to force turnovers. And we didn't do either successfully.

“What happens when you lose, criticism goes to the play-caller, criticism goes to the quarterback, because they're the most exposed. But obviously they didn't have a lot of help in some areas either.”

Still, Gilbert played poorly. Since 1994, Texas had been quarterbacked by James Brown, Major Applewhite, Chris Simms, Vince Young or Colt McCoy, excluding a six-game dalliance with Chance Mock.

Texas knows quality quarterbacking. And thus knew crummy quarterbacking when it arrived.

None of the Longhorns at the Westin Hotel on Monday threw Gilbert under the Bevo Bus.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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