• Garrett Gilbert named starting quarterback

    The wait is over. The Texas Longhorns have a starting quarterback.

    Mack Brown announced Monday morning what many believed was inevitable – that Garrett Gilbert will take his team’s first snaps in Saturday’s season opener against Rice. The decision itself isn’t as much of a surprise as its timing. Gilbert started every game in 2010 and played the majority of the national title game two seasons ago after Colt McCoy suffered an injury. Texas’ other three quarterbacks – sophomore Case McCoy, redshirt freshman Connor Wood, and true freshman David Ash – have one career pass attempt between them. In fact, now that Gilbert has won the job, there are reports that Wood has decided to transfer. Nonetheless, Brown and his coaching staff waited until the week of the Longhorns’ first game to name Gilbert their starter.

    "He's the starting quarterback," Brown said. "If he moves the ball and scores, he'll keep it."

  • The Stat Guy: Comparing Texas’ offense to Boise State’s

    Mack Brown has emphasized repeatedly the importance of third down conversions and red zone offense, two banes of Texas’ existence in 2010.

    Out of 192 attempts, Texas only converted 77 third downs, a measly 40 percent. And in the red zone, the Longhorns scored just 23 touchdowns on 52 attempts from inside the 20-yard line — a 44 percent success rate.

    So after an offseason of cleaning house, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

    Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin was brought to Texas this past winter to help the Longhorns score. One of the top offensive minds in the country, Harsin put together a strong body of work at Boise State and also helped the Broncos put up some big (and efficient) numbers.

    While Texas sputtered on third downs and in the red zone last year, Boise State fared better. On third down, the Broncos converted 75 times on 153 attempts — a 50 percent rate. But with Harsin calling the plays and quarterback Kellen Moore executing them correctly, they faced a third-down situation 40 fewer times than the Longhorns. And remember Texas’ poor red zone success rate? Up north, Harsin’s Broncos broke the plane 47 times out of 68 attempts (69 percent).

    Boise State’s effectiveness in crucial spots led to some big point totals. The Broncos averaged 45 points per game compared to Texas’ 24.

    It’s clear that Harsin knows how to coach an offense, and he’s done it with two- and three-star recruits. Now, Harsin gets to work with co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, another young coaching star, and the esteemed recruiting classes Texas hauls in year after year. It shouldn’t be too long before Texas returns to offensive prominence.

    Printed on Monday, August 29, 2011 as: Harsin's influence in Texas may be what offense needs.