An offseason rife with upheaval, from the coaching staff to the move to a deep-pocketed television partner, came full circle for Texas Sunday as the school went public with both a new on-field and off-field look.
Based on the early returns, Longhorn Nation — Presented by ESPN — might want to focus on the latter rather than the former. Especially when it comes to the all-important quarterback position.
In 2010, and in his first year as the heir to the signal-caller throne vacated by current Cleveland Brown and future Super Bowl-winning QB Colt McCoy, Garrett Gilbert tossed 17 interceptions against just 10 touchdowns, playing a significant role in the startling 5-7 record a year removed from a title-game appearance. Given the opportunity in a nationally-televised spring game to help begin to erase that nightmare first season, Gilbert apparently instead added to future night terrors.
Especially when you factor Gilbert working against the No. 2 defense into the equation.
Quarterback Garrett Gilbert — competing for the starter’s job with three others — struggled for much of his first few series despite being given almost every advantage imaginable. He worked with the first-team offense against backups on defense, and he worked with a wind instead of against it. Despite all of those things, he came up short twice in the red zone and unleashed a terribly underthrown interception.
Gulp. Another McCoy, anyone?
On the other side of the ball, the Longhorns’ first-team defense allowed a unit quarterbacked by Case McCoy and featuring several walk-ons to mount a long touchdown drive.
Of course, it’s merely spring, a full five months ahead of the start of the 2011 season. Nothing concrete can be learned from a vanilla-themed game. Coming off an abysmal 2010 season, however, Gilbert’s performance is alarming to say the least.
On the positive tip, though, UT unveiled both their new network name and its accompanying logo.
Ahead of their spring game, the school announced that their TV network born of a nine-figure financial consummation with ESPN will be called — in a stroke of genius that nobody saw coming — “The Longhorn Network”. For the $300 million the WWL will shell out over the next 20 years, the network will get…
…at least one exclusive football game, eight men’s basketball games, women’s basketball coverage of games not televised elsewhere, and Olympic sports coverage. There will also be pregame and postgame shows for football and basketball games, coaches’ shows for every sport Texas sponsors and other daily programming. Plans call for 200 events a year.
There’s a possibility that UT’s season opener against Rice will be broadcast on the network, which is expected to launch sometime in late August and before the early September opener. No word yet on, given the current state of the QB position, whether the theme of that launch will be “Must-Flee TV”.