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Texas Football 2011 Spring Game Recap Part 1: Looking For A QB

Well, I think we are.

I'm not entirely sure that Mack Brown believes we're looking for a QB, despite his statements to the contrary and assurances of open competition, as the allotment of snaps and series distribution in the Spring Game suggested a clear incoming hierarchy of Gilbert-McCoy-Wood-Ash.

Anticipating competition, I saw attempts at coronation.

We don't have a QB we can trust right now, despite the meme that's emerging from this game that Case McCoy shined or the ESPN crew's attempt to tab Gilbert because he "battled through."

Mack Brown likes concrete hierarchy and anointing - the twin handmaidens of entitlement (see de facto naming of Garrett Gilbert as Texas QB 2010-2012 before Gilbert's senior year at Lake Travis) and the Spring game quarterback snaps didn't do much to turn that notion on its head.

Gilbert was allocated undisputed starter snaps as if we'd gone 11-2 last year and he'd thrown 7 picks instead of 17. Case McCoy was treated as the clear #2 (he took the first two series of #2 snaps and was the only back-up to take snaps with the #1 offense), Connor Wood never saw the 1st team offense, didn't see the field until Case McCoy had logged two series, and half of his snaps came when the coaches were trying to get looks at various third team blocking surfaces. David Ash clearly isn't in the mix, despite his precociousness.

A head coach looking to shake it up puts Gilbert-McCoy-Wood in a 1st half rotation with each taking rotating series with both the 1st and 2nd teams. Then you roll with two hot hands in the 3rd quarter and get Ash a 4th quarter look.

Didn't happen.

Garrett Gilbert looked a lot like the guy from last year. I keep getting a Jonathan Crompton vibe, he of the day-glow orange UT. He still doesn't see the field, his accuracy is variable, and his interception to Bryant Jackson was of the "What could you possibly be looking at?" variety. After a bad 0-3 start, he did makes some throws, but he didn't exactly exude comfort and improvement. He throws best over the middle of the field (look at his throws to Hales and John Harris in the end of 1st half drive), but his accuracy anywhere else is a coin flip. His inability to gauge pressure and understand situations is still notable. He looks like a high school system QB struggling to learn football beyond the crib sheet of one read and go. He's salvageable, but he's got some work to do.

Case McCoy's stat line was quantitatively good (9 of 11 for 124, 1 td), but his qualitative level of play ranged from poor to average. Here were his passing plays, including sacks:

- Flip out to Jeremy Hills. Should go for -2, but Hills fights for positive yardage.
- Nice short slant on 3rd and 2 for 5.
- Freaks under very modest pressure and overthrows a short out route by eight yards throwing off of back foot.
- Freaks under pressure again. Bad footwork. Air mails it. They decide to count it as a sack, it doesn't impact his stat line.
- Short slant to DeSean Hales. Should go for 2. Hales breaks two (poor) tackles to gain 10.
- Nice sprint out hitch to Patrick McNamara for 10. First real college throw of the game. Case throws well on the run in the short passing game.
- Sack. No checkdown.
- 3rd and long. Throws a horrific ball to Darius White - it's under thrown, the wrong route, and mechanically awful. Off his back foot again. White posts up Byndom, adjusts to the ball, 22 yard gain.

At this halfway point, McCoy is 5 of 6 for 55 yards. A great stat line, but objectively, his level of play isn't good. In eight passing plays, he has made two positive plays, two adequate, and four bad.

- Flips it out to Fozzy for 4. Bad mechanics, bad throw. Throws it low and Fozzy has to dive for the catch. Injures self, of course.
- Defense busts coverage on blitz - McCoy recognizes and flips to McNamara for an easy 10 yard TD. Good recognition. Easy throw. Nice work.
- Now lining up with 1st team O, incomplete on a flip pass to DeSean Hales.
- McCoy sacked. Had a wide open receiver on crossing route right in front of his face. Doesn't pull the trigger.
- Nice seam/post to Mike Davis for around 25 or so. Solid throw.
- Hits wide open Jamison Berryhill in flat for big yardage.

Case's last two throws here are his best, but the balance sheet of his actual performance belies his stat line. If anyone is confident with him as a our starting QB, I'm happy to hear you out.

Connor Wood showed me some things with his feet and arm strength and 2-3 drops from his teammates didn't help him much. This is the guy I'd be working to develop. His lack of high school competition means he has a growth curve, but his base attributes and some of the things he does in game situations with his feet and standing strong in the pocket suggest real upside. I won't pretend that I know Connor Wood is the answer, but I'd like to see more. It's unclear to me why our coaches don't share a similar viewpoint and arranged Spring game snaps accordingly.

David Ash strikes me as a natural thrower. And if he has some alpha male leadership attributes in him that are lacking in the other three, perhaps the QB situation works itself out in 2012 or 2013. But he's not an option this Fall.

There's still plenty of time for our guys to improve and a depth chart to solidify, but I'd like to see our coaches allow it to happen rather than attempt to shape it at the potter's wheel. They might be surprised with what takes form.