• The Stat Guy: Was Garrett Gilbert really that bad in 2010?

    Junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert received a lot of criticism last year — while he did throw 17 picks his season really was not as bad as the critics would lead to believe. (Daily Texan file photo)
    Junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert received a lot of criticism last year — while he did throw 17 picks his season really was not as bad as the critics would lead to believe. (Daily Texan file photo)

    A lot of the blame for the lackluster 2010 season was put upon first-year starter Garrett Gilbert.

    Following the National Championship in 2010, fans drooled at the prospect of having Gilbert anchor the program for the next three years, and expectations for the former Lake Travis gunslinger were sky-high. Texas fans expected 350-yard, four-touchdown passing performances weekly.

    Well, Gilbert had his ups and downs throughout the season, including calls for Case McCoy to replace him.

    However, looking back on statistics, Gilbert really wasn’t that bad. Averaging about a 60-percent completion rating, with a Jordan Shipley-less receiving corps is respectable. And when your offensive line doesn’t block for you, being sacked 18 times is understandable.

    Gilbert did throw 17 interceptions, compared to only 10 touchdowns, almost the same ratio of his National Championship performance (two touchdowns, four interceptions). Take away a few outliers (his five-interception performance at Kansas State, his three against Tech and his late pick against Texas A&M when he was trying to make something happen) and his stat line looks OK.

    Fans were upset by Gilbert’s inability to get lift on his throws, many of which were tipped at the line. But with a new-look Bryan Harsin offense that emphasizes quick decisions, that problem can be easily corrected. Plus, Harsin says Gilbert’s mechanics and footwork are greatly improved.

    In 2010, Gilbert was placed in a system that decided running was going to be a crucial aspect of the offense — a far cry from the pass-happy days of Colt McCoy. So, the state’s all-time passing leader in high school (12,534 yards) was called upon to hand the ball off in a more pro-style offense, an arena Gilbert was obviously uncomfortable with, and rightfully so. He had been playing in a spread-style offense for his entire life and wasn’t used to having to take a snap under center and then make his decision while taking a three-step drop. When it became apparent that there would be no power running game, the coaches (specifically, former offensive coordinator Greg Davis) decided to throw the ball more but elected to use the old formations, meaning that Gilbert would still be under center to begin a large chunk of the plays.

    With no running game relief, Gilbert threw 441 passes. When you put the ball in the air that much, bad things are going to happen.

    2011 should be different for Texas. If Gilbert wins the quarterback competition in camp, look for an entirely new player come Sept. 3. An improved receiving corps that features Mike Davis, Darius White, John Harris and Jaxon Shipley, and a running game that will keep the defenses honest will help bolster the passing game. Under a new, Boise State-style offense, Gilbert could flourish. Texas fans shouldn’t give up on him just yet.  

    Printed on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 as: Was Gilbert really that bad in 2010? Stats say he wasn't.

  • UT issues statement regarding Texas A&M rumors

    The University of Texas sent out the following release in response to reports that Texas A&M is headed to the Southeastern Conference:

    "At this point we do not know if Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12. All we know is what we read and hear in the media. We are actively looking at every possible option we have and have been talking to other Big 12 schools. We are strong supporters and members of the Big 12. We'd be disappointed if Texas A&M leaves but, if they do, we wish them well."

  • Foot locker

    With all the focus on new schemes on both sides of the ball, player development and coaching changes, things can begin to get a bit repetitive during media days. That’s why I took the time out to ask a few players about something other than football.

    During our lunch break, I noticed an exceptionally clean pair of Air Force Ones on a Baylor player, and knew I needed to delve deeper.

    Those ultra-white Nikes belonged to Bears wide receiver Kendall Wright, and to say this man is a lover of shoes would be a gross understatement. When I asked his favorite shoe brand, his answer was simple.

    “I love Jordans,” he said. “Especially the No. 11s, 12s and 13s.”

    Wright was not the only player that shared an affection towards sneakers. Texas A&M defensive end Tony Jerod-Eddie is also a self-proclaimed “sneakerhead.” Jerod-Eddie was sporting a pair of Cool Grey Jordan 11s that looked like they had just been lifted out of the box. He almost ran out of breath naming recent shoes he had picked up.

    “Oh man, I’ve got the Space Jams, these [Cool Greys] and I’m getting a white and black pair that comes out in December,” he said. “But my favorites are the 12s.”

    Aficionados like Wright and Jerod-Eddie know a thing or two when it comes to shoes. In contrast, Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon confessed his lack of knowledge about the shoe game.

    “I don’t know about Jordans that much,” said Blackmon, who was sporting a pair of black Jordan 3s. “These are my dress shoes.”

  • Taking an early look at Texas’ golf team

    If you have never been out to Steiner Ranch to see the Longhorns play a round of golf, next year may be the perfect time to catch what is sure to be a talented team on the links. In fact, it may prove to be one of the best teams Texas has ever fielded. Here’s a look at the projected starters for next year’s men’s golf team.

    Dylan Frittelli (Pretoria, South Africa) — One of five seniors, Frittelli has shown over the years that he is the real deal. Has two tournament victories in his collegiate career, was named the 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year and is the top-ranked South African amateur. Expect Frittelli to lead this team with his strong play and experience.

    Julio Vegas (Maturin, Venezuela) — The junior came on the scene with a bang late last year, proving he deserves a spot among the starters. After redshirting his first year, Vegas also sat out his second year with the team. A powerful player at 24 years old, he also brings experience to the table. He owns two Venezuelan National Junior Championships and is also the younger brother of Jhonattan Vegas, a former Longhorn and current PGA Tour golfer. He isn’t the most consistent player, but Vegas should turn things around in a big way. The talent is undoubtedly there, so it’s more of an issue of harnessing it properly.

    Toni Hakula (Espoo, Finland) — The third of the Longhorns’ international players, this sophomore is ready for his chance at the spotlight. The 2011 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year has already played in several professional events as an amateur and even finished as runner-up twice in two events in Denmark. He plays beyond his years in terms of skill and overall confidence on the course, and was integral in Texas’ success a year ago after being used as a starter more often near the end of the season. Look for Hakula to establish himself among the nation’s best young golfers.

    Cody Gribble (Highland Park, Texas) — Gribble, a junior, enjoyed a rather fruitful amateur career before he came to Texas, but has yet to display his full ability as a Longhorn. As a freshman he showed flashes of brilliance with second- and third-place finishes to his name, but as a sophomore failed to finish better than 20th in any event. After a number of victories and accolades in high school, Gribble obviously has the talent to be successful. He just needs to find his stroke again.

    Jordan Spieth (Dallas, Texas) — The newly crowned top amateur nationwide, Spieth will bring a highly refined golf game to Austin. The freshman has already played with the big boys on the PGA Tour, finishing as high as 16th place in the 2010 HP Byron Nelson Championship. It’s not likely a player of his caliber would redshirt, as head coach John Fields doesn’t have much to teach this guy. If you like watching exceptional players on the course, Spieth is a sight to see. He is skilled in every aspect of the game, and could be the missing piece to the puzzle for a Longhorn golf championship.

    Frittelli, Vegas and Hakula are just about locks to start in every tournament for the Longhorns. Having spent most of last season in the starting rotation, they should do the same in the upcoming campaign. Gribble has a fair shot at starting, but the team’s other four seniors could find their way into starting roles as well. Seniors Alex Moon, Steffan Schmieding, Brett Spencer and Adam Wennerstrom have all filled in sparingly in their time as Longhorns, and are capable of carding low rounds with consistency. Junior Johnathan Schnitzer may also vie for a starting spot, as his game began to improve late last season.

    Along with the arrival of Spieth, two more freshman will be welcomed to the team in the fall. Kramer Hickok of Plano and Lake Travis’ Tayler Termeer round out an impressive freshman class for the Longhorns. Don’t expect much out of Hickok and Termeer just yet, as talent runs deep with this team.

    Whoever the Longhorns plan to use in a given event, rest assured they will be the best-suited player to do so. There is an immense amount of talent and experience on the team, and it should prove to be an exciting and possibly very successful season.

  • Clemens gets lucky

    Roger Clemens, who has won 350 some-odd ballgames, just got the biggest ‘W’ of his life.

    With the prosecution’s balk last week — the federal judge said the mistake was one a first year law student wouldn’t make — Clemens gets to walk, scotch free.

    This isn’t to say the former Longhorn pitcher would have been found guilty if the federal prosecutors didn’t show the jury inadmissible evidence, the grounds for the mistrial. But look at the guy, and look at the evidence. He probably would have. In any proper trial, without foolish prosecution mistakes, Clemens is probably guilty. This also doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s innocent, either, because this looked like a case that would bring the Rocket back to earth — the needles that had Clemens’ DNA and anabolic steroids and the testimonies of ex-trainer Brian McNamee and former teammate Andy Pettitte.

    He might be forever classified as one of the most unpopular players ever, one who had countless problems with opposing players as well as teammates, received more negative press than good, and had will-he-or-won’t-he retire sagas in the mold of Brett Favre. He has been linked to multiple other women while married, including one woman who claimed to have a 10-year adulterous relationship with Clemens when she was 15. He arrogantly put a little bit of himself into each of his kids, giving each one of them a name that begins with K, for the strikeouts he was known for. He even said this about Japanese and Korean fans at the 2006 Baseball World Classic:

    “None of the dry cleaners were open, they were all at the game, Japan and Korea.”

    Nobody really liked Clemens before the steroid allegations began bubbling up around 2007 or so. And now most people hate him.

    Why should he care? It’s not like he’s ever been totally image-conscience. Clemens’ goal, like most other ballplayers, is to end up in the Hall of Fame. Without any absolute charges, he has every right to now make it. This will outrage those who cry foul, that he used an unfair advantage to get an upper hand. But they won’t have the law backing them up.

    For those who may care about this school’s athletic legacy, the mistrial was a good thing. Clemens will become the school’s first member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. The column I wrote a couple of weeks ago saying that Clemens had lost his shot at the title of Texas’ “best ever” because of steroids is now obsolete. Climb back up the pantheon, Rog.

    In 2013, Clemens will become eligible for the Hall of Fame, as will Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa — should be a fun voting process. If voters allow themselves to look past the “possibility” that Clemens used steroids and that there is no court decision that said he actually did, then he’ll make it in. You can imagine how many will be fully against it, who will stand up and cry, “You can’t be in the Hall, you juiced!”

    And then you can picture Clemens, smug grin and all, retorting:

    “Prove it.”