Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Thoughts on the Longhorns' big reveal
By David Ubben
We know less about Texas than any team in the Big 12.
That's by design, of course, but after the team released its Week 1 depth chart on Monday, that's still the case, with apologies to Kansas State.
Texas hasn't had a practice open to the media all offseason. Quarterbacks spoke to the media today for the first time since a Thanksgiving night loss to Texas A&M.
Players weren't made available to the media during fall camp until 11 days had passed.
So, more so than any team in the league, these Horns are an unknown commodity. Coach Mack Brown provided a peek underneath the veil on Monday, but we won't get a real sense for how good Texas can be until it opens the season Saturday against Rice. We'll learn a good deal more of what we need to know when BYU travels to Austin the following week.
For now, though, here's what we've got:
The big news is obvious: Garrett Gilbert gets the nod at quarterback. He was the safe bet all offseason, and the guy I thought would eventually get it. I doubted originally how "open" the job actually was, but to be clear, I don't think this whole QB race was a ruse. It was open. Gilbert re-won it. As for the difference this year? There's no doubt that if Gilbert struggles like he did in 2010, backup Case McCoy will get a look much quicker. "He’s the starting quarterback. If he moves the ball and scores, he’ll keep the job," Brown told reporters on Monday.
Hyped freshman corner Quandre Diggs wowed in the spring game, and has mesmerized his teammates all fall. He's a co-starter at one of the cornerback spots alongside Adrian Phillips.
Jordan Hicks missed the spring with a broken foot, but he's come on strong in the fall, seizing a starting spot at strongside linebacker. The Ohio native was one of the nation's best linebackers in the 2010 class, but he'll get a chance to grow alongside Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho.
Look out for Shipley 2.0. Jaxon Shipley, Jordan's younger brother, is the starter at H receiver and will return punts. Every indication we've heard is he's a playmaker and will get a chance to show it early on. He graduated early, but instead of enrolling at UT and going through spring practice, he worked out with Jordan during the NFL lockout.
Diggs and Monroe will handle kickoff return duties.
Starting center? Redshirt freshman Dominic Espinosa. Tray Allen is back at left tackle, too, after missing all of last season because of a foot injury.