The third-down pass sailed over the intended receiver, 10 yards too long and a bit wide, and fell to the turf.
Not an unusual sequence of events in the Garrett Gilbert era, where just 57 percent of passes are completed and 23 errant balls have found the hands of defensive backs.
But on Saturday against Brigham Young, the Longhorns finally elected to go with a change.
We don’t know if the aforementioned incomplete pass — which by the way, was thrown in the direction of Jaxon Shipley — will be the last pass Gilbert will ever throw as a Longhorn. Probably not — this is a quarterback controversy that is just getting started.
“I think Garrett’s a good quarterback, so we’ll see what the film says and what practice says this next week,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin.
But honestly, there’s just no way that Texas can justify going back to Gilbert, whose career has always been about possibility instead of reality. It’s clear he’s not cut out to be the starting quarterback here. Not when he holds a 7-7 record in games he’s started; not when he’s thrown just 13 career touchdowns. Not when it’s clear the team rallied behind McCoy and Ash.
It’s hard to give up on a quarterback who set Texas high school records for career yardage. Texas didn’t want to do that. It gave Gilbert 100 chances to put points on the board, protect the football and help the Longhorns win. That never happened.
It might be a bit premature to officially label Gilbert as a “bust.” But we’re getting there. He was rated as the second-best quarterback in the 2009 recruiting class, was a five-star recruit and was the 2009 Gatorade National Player of the Year.
Expectations spiked when he nearly led Texas to an improbable comeback over Alabama in the national championship his freshman season. Given his high school success and his NFL-ready arm, we thought it possible he could be better than even Colt McCoy.
Now we come to find out, in rather painful fashion, that he’s not even better than McCoy’s younger brother.
Collegiate athletes do not get paid to play and are under more stress than we could even imagine, so it is incredibly unfair that Gilbert got booed off the field Saturday night. Perhaps even more discouraging was the way the 100,000 fans cheered with glee when the Longhorns went with the other two quarterbacks. It didn’t matter that McCoy and Ash had, before that point, completed just two passes between them. To the lot, anything was better than Gilbert.
Stoic and composed, Gilbert traded in his helmet for a headset and spent the rest of his night signaling in plays and cheering on the two players who had just taken his starting job, one he spent the offseason trying to earn.
Give him praise for keeping such a positive demeanor, even when you know it was killing him on the inside. And feel bad for him too because his demotion was displayed on national TV and cheered on by just about everybody at the game.
But make no mistake: This is the right decision.
Even if it should have come a year ago.
Printed on September 12, 2011 as: UT's starting quarterback: probably not Gilbert