Disclaimer: I agree with the quarterback switch.
This week Mack Brown announced what most fans wanted, Garrett Gilbert will not be starting for Texas against UCLA. The fans hammered, and rightfully so, Gilbert with boos last Saturday against BYU, and added insult to Gilbert's demotion when they cheered Ash & McCoy. Obviously, Mack Brown and the coaching staff aren't going to let the fans decide things because that would be just bad. Gilbert won the quarterback battle and I'm sure Brown wanted to show enough confidence in him to let him ride out the bad times and hoped he succeeded. However, Brown, Harsin & Applewhite knew they had Ash & McCoy in their back pocket. With those 2 playing, it allows the Longhorns to open up the playbook and execute the trickery everyone loves.
Gilbert has been through 3 different offenses in his 3 years in Austin. He's had no running game, wide receivers have been hit or miss and the offensive line is shaky. I heard a stat on ESPN Austin radio that surprised me. They charted the offensive plays against BYU and found that Gilbert had 1 play with Malcom Brown in the backfield while the Ash/McCoy combo had 10+. The reason Malcom Brown is starting today against UCLA is because he is the best running back on the team. If you don't give your quarterback the best players on the field, it will be hard to win. Gilbert isn't Tom Brady, who just plugs in random guys into the offense and still wins. For all the talent UT recruits, the wide receivers haven't really showed for it. Jaxon Shipley has played just like his brother and that was expected and surprising. Marquise Goodwin didn't plan on playing this season so he could focus track and field but he's returned and made his way to the top of the depth chart. I'm not discounting Goodwin & Shipley's contributions, but what does it say about the other WRs? How have they been surpassed by the freshman Shipley, and Goodwin, who hasn't had time to learn the new offense and wasn't even expected to play?
So today against UCLA, the new quarterback duo will start and fans expect everything to be peachy. We are talking about sophomore and freshman quarterbacks starting on the road, at the massive Rose Bowl, against a BCS school, against a team that beat Texas on the road last year. What happens if the combo begins to fail? Does Brown go back to Gilbert and if so, how long does it take? How does Gilbert perform in his 2nd life? Remember, it was the national championship game at the Rose Bowl where Gilbert wow'd the national audience when Colt McCoy went out with an injury. It would be a weird full circle if he were to replace Case McCoy. How do the fans react if Gilbert succeeds? With an awkward acceptance.
Things will not be easy for the young duo but let's not hype up UCLA to be better than they are. They have their own quarterback issues and have talent elsewhere that really hasn't played as well as they should. If UCLA isn't good then that Rose Bowl doesn't look as intimidating when there are empty seats in the stadium. Texas' defense is very legit this year and that linebacker crew is beastly. Beastly enough to stop the UCLA's running game that gashed the Longhorns last year. I predict an easy and exciting Texas win (don't hold me to it though). \m/