Texas’ 7-5 regular season record this year is a modest improvement over last year’s 5-7 effort that saw the Longhorns miss a bowl game for the first time in the Mack Brown era. But, all things considered, it could have been worse. Texas was frightfully young in a number of key spots, especially on offense, and being coached up by two brand new coordinators. Top that off with injury problems late in the season and a very winnable Holiday Bowl against Cal doesn’t sound too bad all of a sudden.
Now, I’m a firm believer in exercising patience in a knee-jerk world, but 7-5 isn’t going to get it done for much longer with fans, or the UT administration. Not when Brown is getting over $5 million a year. Not when the state of Texas is filled to capacity with big-time recruits.
Given that last sentence, one thing that’s been startling is how much Texas has struggled at the quarterback spot since Colt McCoy graduated and left for the NFL*. In all, the Longhorns have either gone through (Garrett Gilbert) or rotated (Case McCoy and David Ash) three QB’s in two seasons. Another, Connor Wood, transferred without ever seeing the field. All but McCoy were highly rated coming out of high school.
(*writer’s note: A couple of things to preface: 1) McCoy was a winner, a rare competitor. No star system by a recruiting site can judge that intangible; 2) to have players like Vince Young and McCoy back-to-back is almost unheard of at just about any program on any level.)
There’s another highly touted quarterback, Connor Brewer, who has given his verbal commitment to Texas for the 2012 class. The Longhorns are front-loaded at that position, but the growth hasn’t been visible.
My question for Brown is does he go with a quick fix at the most crucial spot on the team and grab a JUCO transfer?
“I don’t know. We’re looking at it right now because our quarterbacks are still young,” Brown said Friday. “I think those are things we’re looking at. We’ve taken two junior college players in our first 13 years.”
Indeed, Texas has been a program focused more on recruiting and development than plugging holes. By and large, it’s worked.
But the development of those young quarterbacks — all are either freshmen or sophomores — has come at one of those bizarre times when the program is in flux. Coaching turnover and lack of production at other complementary positions (O-line, WR) has contributed to the Longhorns QB struggles to a degree.
Every football program goes through those times and there are varying factors that decide how quickly they get out. One way is to bring in a JUCO or graduate transfer. It’s easy to point to guys like Cam Newton or Russell Wilson and the success they’ve had right away. They also had the pieces in place around them to make an impact.
Does Texas have those pieces so they can just plug in a more seasoned QB? That’s for the coaching staff to decide, but it is a legitimate option while offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin continues to coach up the younger quarterbacks. Who knows, maybe none of them will work out. Scouting prospects is a hit-or-miss business.
Bringing in a JUCO or graduate transfer may not be the traditional Mack Brown way of doing things, but Brown’s already shown a willingness to make necessary changes to win when he cleaned his coaching house after last season. At the very least, he should be willing to do the same with his roster.
(Brown’s quotes courtesy of Orangebloods.com)