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Why Texas Won’t Return Until Their QB Play Does

Will Texas be back? Not until they find their next playmaker under center.

Getty Images - Greg Nelson

Why Texas Won’t Return Until Their QB Play Does

Coach Tom Herman has made his intentions clear. Texas needs its next great QB, and he isn’t afraid to fight the Sooners to get him. First, Texas grabbed a commitment out of the Sooner’s back yard from 4-star QB Casey Thompson. Then, Herman was able to flip 4-star QB Cameron Rising from his Sooner pledge to the Longhorns. A move that bolsters UT’s future while at the same time lands a blow to coach Stoops and the Sooners.

Why is coach Herman placing such an emphasis on quarterback? The answer is obvious. It has long been said that you need great quarterback play to win the Big 12. The fact is, Texas is in desperate need for their next great quarterback. In large part the key to the Longhorn’s woes has been their failure to develop a quarterback since Colt McCoy headed off to the NFL. Time and time again, their limitations at QB have been glaring and too much for Texas to overcome, even against sub-par talent. Just look at the correlation between quarterback ratings and their win-loss record over the last decade.

Texas QB Performance Since Vince Young

YEAR QB CMP ATT CMP % YDS TD INT QBR REC
2016 Shane Buechele 236 391 60.4 2958 21 11 136.0 5-7
2015 Jerrod Heard 92 159 57.9 1214 5 5 126.1 5-7
Tyrone Swoopes 47 93 50.5 537 4 4 111.1
2014 Tyrone Swoopes 224 384 58.3 2409 13 11 116.5 6-7
2013 Case McCoy 187 329 56.8 1933 11 13 109.3 8-5
David Ash 53 87 60.9 760 7 2 156.3
2012 David Ash 214 318 67.3 2699 19 8 153.3 9-4
Case McCoy 54 76 71.1 722 6 3 169.0
2011 David Ash 99 173 57.2 1079 4 8 108.0 8-5
Case McCoy 88 144 61.1 1034 7 4 131.9
Garrett Gilbert 15 31 48.4 247 1 2 113.1
2010 Garrett Gilbert 260 441 59.0 2744 10 17 111.0 5-7
2009 Colt McCoy 332 470 70.6 3521 27 12 147.4 13-1
2008 Colt McCoy 332 433 76.7 3859 34 8 173.8 12-1
2007 Colt McCoy 276 424 65.1 3303 22 18 139.2 10-3
2006 Colt McCoy 217 318 68.2 2570 29 7 161.8 10-3
2005 Vince Young 212 325 65.2 3036 26 10 163.9 13-0

That is not a pretty picture. And,the drop from Colt McCoy to Garrett Gilbert is pretty jarring, and not since Gilbert, have the Longhorns had a QB complete more than 236 passes. And, in a league filled with spread offenses, no Texas QB has thrown more than 3,000 yards since 2009.

Another fun fact, the only two Texas QB’s on NFL rosters right now: Colt McCoy (Redskins) and Garrett Gilbert (Raiders). Tyrone Swoopes has a chance to make an NFL roster according to reports, but as a tight end.

Colt McCoy and Vince Young were all time college greats, but this is Texas. The chief school in a state that churns out more quarterbacks than every other state. And, before we lay too much blame on Charlie Strong for not finding a quarterback, remember that it was Mack Brown who recruited both Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel to play…to play safety.

It is not like Texas has been scraping the bottom of the barrel; hoping that a 2-star kid would turn out to be a hidden gem. Garrett Gilbert was a Texas State champion, and graded by ESPN as the 11th best player and second best QB his recruiting cycle. Heck, all these guys were considered great gets by everybody when Texas signed them. David Ash was All-State QB his senior year in high school. He even showed a lot of promise and might have developed into a good/great QB if not having to hang it all up due to concussions.

Even with these pedigrees though, QB play on the 40-acres has been abysmal since 2009. To put it into perspective, the last time that recruits Cameron Rising and Casey Thompson saw good-to-great QB play at the University of Texas, they were in elementary school.

Currently, the Longhorns will have two scholarship quarterbacks to rely on in 2017: incumbent Shane Buechele and newcomer Sam Ehlinger. Buechele had some shining moments last year and has shown promise that he has the tools to become a great quarterback. However, there is one big catch. Buechele doesn’t truly fit coach Herman’s style. Buechele is not a mobile quarterback, which Herman’s offense relies on. So, it will be interesting to see how Herman adapts his system to Buechele’s strengths and weaknesses.

Ehlinger is a dual threat quarterback, but is he ready to take over the reins? Texas has seen a string of freshmen under center with no progress, and if anybody knows the dangers of throwing a green QB in the fire, it should be the Longhorns.

Based on spring practice, expect Buechele to be the day-one starter this season. However, should he struggle, do not be surprised if by the end of the season a different number is calling plays under center.

Maybe that is why Herman is grabbing two quarterbacks for 2018. Normally, schools bring in one scholarship QB a year, and if they do bring in more than one QB, it isn’t two 4-star recruits. And don’t forget, Herman could still be looking to add a graduate transfer to that QB room for this year, too. It will be interesting to see if Texas can hold onto both Thompson and Rising till signing day. And then, if one QB will be content to be the backup for almost their whole career for the other, or if they will decide to transfer.

At the end of all this the problem with Texas has not been game day coaching. Nor has not been recruiting, either. It was that both Mack Brown and Charlie Strong failed to develop a quarterback of the future. Instead, Longhorn fans have seen one highly ranked recruit after another flame out. Or, in David Ash’s case, having to retire because of injuries.

Can Tom Herman change that around? For the sake of Longhorn fans (and the Big 12), let’s hope so.

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