Expectations may have been too high for Texas QB Garrett Gilbert
Column by CHUCK CARLTON / The Dallas Morning News
Later, he checked it and found a text – from McCoy.
This weekend, McCoy will return to Texas to see his No. 12 retired before Saturday’s game with Baylor. Things are going well for McCoy, who started and helped the Cleveland Browns over the New Orleans Saints , and not so good for Texas (4-3, 2-2 Big 12) and Gilbert in his first season as a starter.
The comparisons to McCoy will be inevitable for Gilbert, who has completed 60.1 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and eight interceptions.
The question: Are you comparing Gilbert to McCoy, the two-time Heisman finalist who cemented a legacy as a junior or senior, or the sophomore who tossed 18 interceptions in 2007?
In that context, Gilbert’s performance this season is maybe a little more predictable.
(That’s not an apology. I was among those who thought Gilbert would ready for prime time after the second half against Alabama in the BCS title game and have similar numbers to McCoy last season. That’s not going to happen. He’s not as far along as I expected.)
Asked this week if he might have any doubts about Gilbert’s ability, Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis responded: “Not in my mind.” He added “I do” when asked if Gilbert could be a great quarterback.
Several factors have worked against Gilbert. His second half against Alabama probably raised expectations way too high in retrospect.
Even though both Garrett and Davis downplay the impact, the switch from the spread to a conventional pro-style offense to the spread was not a normal progression.
The lack of a go-to big-play receiver in the Quan Cosby/Jordan Shipley mold has been noticeable and limiting. When Gilbert checks down, he doesn’t have a playmaker capable of getting a first down.
Then there’s the leadership factor. McCoy struggled with that as a freshman, one reason coach Mack Brown went to a no-huddle offense. Gilbert, while bright, seems to have a button-down personality that some people find almost robotic. Quarterbacks need to be out front, especially with a team that has few proven leaders on offense.
Gilbert seems to be trying, at Nebraska and this week when he was asked about Brown’s suggestion that the team had entitlement issues.
“It was a false sense of entitlement,” Gilbert said. “It is something that shouldn’t happen as a football team. You have to go out and earn it and prove it every week.”
Now all Gilbert has to do is deliver a performance to match that message, beginning with Baylor. He does have the tools.
• • •
Q: How did Texas beat Nebraska and get beat by Iowa State?
CARLTON: As Mack Brown explained this week, the season has been marked by an entitlement mentality, by a lack of a passion and an absence of consistency.
Players keep saying they’ve learned their lessons. Of course, they said it earlier this season, too. Maybe this time, the message has stuck.
“I came to Texas because I knew that’s something that I wouldn’t have to deal with,” linebacker Keenan Robinson said. “But I’m obviously dealing with it now, and that’s part of life. Sometimes things aren’t always going to go your way, and this is where you find out how tough everyone really is … to see how everyone’s going to respond when their backs are against the wall.
“We’re not in the Top 25 anymore, and people aren’t going to see us as the same Texas team that we usually are. So now it’s just that the world is against us and we’re going to see how we respond – how my teammates respond. And that’s just going to make us stronger as a team.”
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Texas fulfill its role as a favorite against Baylor this week and somehow stumble the next week at Kansas State. Until the Longhorns prove otherwise, the best guess is to expect the unexpected every week.
• • •