Texas Football: Garrett Gilbert Can Carry the Longhorns This Year

Harsh KContributor IIIAugust 30, 2011

Gilbert has the smarts to lead the Texas offense
Gilbert has the smarts to lead the Texas offenseDarren Carroll/Getty Images

With the college football season upon us, Texas fans are hoping for Garrett Gilbert to finally live up to his potential—that is if he gets to start for the Longhorns. Last year was a major misfire for the junior quarterback and the offensive unit around him. However, a lot has happened over the offseason, and Gilbert might just be the answer to Texas' prayers this fall.

There are several factors that work in Gilbert's favor this year. For one, he's a year older, and therefore, wiser. As trite as this sounds, it's true. He was pushed into the deep end when Colt McCoy's career abruptly ended with a bum shoulder in the 2009 BCS national championship game. Since then Gilbert's been playing catch-up with the rest of the offense.

This was amply evident last year when he threw 17 interceptions. His was one of the key failures that led to the Longhorns first losing season under coach Mack Brown. But it's this failure that's made Gilbert a stronger competitor and a play-caller.

He knows the Big 12 defenses better than sophomore Case McCoy, seeing as how he was at their mercy in 2010. He'll be better prepared against them, and will be able to anticipate them better than anyone in the Texas ranks.

In other words, Gilbert is more experienced at this level than McCoy, and he should be an obvious choice ahead of freshmen David Ash and Connor Wood. This year's bound to be much better for Gilbert, especially when it comes to his confidence going into every snap.

Gilbert has come a long way since the 2009 BCS National Championship Game
Gilbert has come a long way since the 2009 BCS National Championship GameKevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Even with last year's frayed offensive unit, Gilbert was able to make the occasional big play. There's no doubt about his ability to throw the ball deep and read routes to perfection. With this year's receiving corps looking much better than last year's, Gilbert will surely be able to make a number of long passes. From highly recruited freshman Jaxon Shipley to senior Mike Davis, Gilbert will have much better receivers.

To add to this, he always has the option of handing the ball to Cody Johnson and Fozzy Whittaker. Having said that, Gilbert himself can run the football down the field. In fact, he had more rushing yards than passing yards in a couple of games in 2010.

Co-offensive coordinators Major Applewhite and Bryan Harsin will also appreciate the fact that Gilbert was, after all, one of the most prized recruits in the country when he first came to the Forty Acres. His 6'4" frame is ideal for a pro-style quarterback—a luxury Texas couldn't afford during the Colt McCoy years.

Gilbert's experience and raw ability along with a fresh offensive set unit make him a very dangerous quarterback this year. He deserves, at least, one more chance to prove himself at Texas.