Gilbert takes over for McCoy as Texas QB

Garrett Gilbert is the Texas quarterback now, and for a
sophomore with no starts in his career, he also find himself
filling the role of grizzled veteran for the Longhorns.

With No. 2 quarterback Sherrod Harris’ decision to leave the
team on the eve of training camp, Gilbert and the Longhorns
reported for the 2010 season Saturday with a serious lack of
experience and depth at the position where Colt McCoy spent the
past four seasons winning 45 games.

Gilbert is best known for taking over for McCoy early in last
season’s national championship game when McCoy got hurt early in
Texas’ 37-21 loss to Alabama.

Harris, who would have been a fifth-year senior, has already
earned his degree and left the team Friday. That leaves true
freshmen Case McCoy, Colt’s younger brother, and Connor Wood
battling for the No. 2 spot with Gilbert acting as their tutor.

Both freshmen were on campus in time for spring practice, but
neither was expected to have to be ready to play on a moment’s
notice this season.

”We probably had two freshman quarterbacks who were a little
anxious when they went to sleep last night because their lives have
changed,” coach Mack Brown said. ”They’ve got to come to in and
start competing.”

The Longhorns are certainly comfortable with their new
starter.

Gilbert was a high school All-American and one of the top
recruits in the country at nearby Lake Travis High School. He
played sparingly as a true freshman last season but was pressed
into pressure-packed duty against Alabama when McCoy was injured on
Texas’ first drive.

”That game was pretty much a blur,” Gilbert said.

After a shaky first half, Gilbert threw two touchdown passes to
rally Texas within 24-21 in the fourth quarter before Alabama
pulled away late. The experience forced Gilbert to grow up fast in
the huddle on the field. He says he’s now ready to take over the
position from McCoy, who set most Texas passing records as a
four-year starter.

”I can’t wait. I’ve got some butterflies but I’m ready to get
going,” Gilbert said.

One early piece of advice from Gilbert to the freshmen: Always
know where your helmet is. Gilbert had set his on the bench in the
game against Alabama and had to scramble to find it when McCoy got
hurt.

”Don’t wear a baseball cap on the sideline,” Gilbert said.

The Longhorns have won at least 10 games every season since 2001
and went 25-2 over the last two, with a Big 12 title in 2009. Texas
senior defensive end Sam Acho, the team’s returning sacks leader,
said the expectations for 2010 are the same.

”We are Texas,” Acho said, ”We always expect to be the
best.”

The Longhorns open training camp with several question
marks.

Three multiyear starters must be replaced on the offensive line
at the same time Brown is trying to rekindle a commitment to a
tougher running game. Last season’s leading receiver, Jordan
Shipley, is now in the NFL, leaving a deep talent pool at the
position searching for a leader.

On defense, the secondary is considered a strength but there is
concern about a lack of depth on the line.

Texas opens the season Sept. 5 at Rice.

”We have a chance this year, with all the questions marks, we
still have a chance to win all the games if we do a great job
coaching,” Brown said.