College Confidential

Texas’ new offensive coordinator gives ‘nobody’ the QB nod

Tyrone Swoopes is one of three candidates for the starting job at quarterback.
Tyrone Swoopes is one of three candidates for the starting job at quarterback. Star-Telegram

The fear of a good many Texas Longhorns football fans is that they’re again heading into a season with nobody to play quarterback.

With still a little more than two weeks to go until coach Charlie Strong’s third Orange & White Spring Game, nobody is leading the race to play quarterback when Notre Dame opens the season Sept. 3 in Austin.

That was the word from new Longhorns offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert on Tuesday when he addressed the media for the first time this spring and just the second time since he was hired. There are plenty of issues to discuss, but really only one that matters.

Hey Gilbert, who’s in the lead to be your QB?

Nobody,” he said.

Gilbert gave sufficient praise to his three main candidates: Senior Tyrone Swoopes, who keeps getting knocked down like a bowling pin only to keep getting reset; sophomore and last year’s hoped-for savior Jerrod Heard; and the new kid, early enrollee Shane Buechele, who has a big arm and a familiar name (Rangers fans, you surely remember third baseman and bench coach Steve Buechele).

It appears that last year’s late signee out of Baltimore, Kai Locksley, won’t have much say in the QB race. Gilbert suggested that a position change could be coming for the former Florida State commit, who was recruited more as an athlete anyway.

Don’t expect a starter to be named by, during or right there after the spring game. This could — and should — take a while.

“I’m not in a hurry to do that,” Gilbert said of naming a QB. “What we want is these guys to be right.”

So what qualities must these three contenders show to be right and pull into the lead, eventually even win the job?

“They’ve got to be intelligent,” Gilbert told reporters. “Obviously, they’ve got to be able to throw it around and be accurate with the ball, and just understand what we do.

“If you’re an intelligent guy with a high football IQ and you equate those things, then you’ve got a guy that’s got a chance to be successful with what we do.”

The offense is Gilbert’s baby. Strong brought him to Texas, actually had to beg him to leave Tulsa to help get the Longhorns’ inept offense the past two seasons get rolling. So Gilbert will be the guy with the greatest influence on picking Texas’ next starting QB.

Gilbert said ultimately, “You play the best guy.” And then you hope like heck the offensive line is up to snuff, the running backs are as powerful as advertised and someone who plays wide receiver will emerge as a playmaker.

Yet maybe it’s all really not that difficult to get the right ingredients to come together quickly. In fact Gilbert, speaking in his pure Texas twang, made it sound as if getting his offense off the ground is kinda simple, even.

After the last several years of stumbling around the kitchen, Longhorns fans are hungry for just a whiff of grandma’s pie. It just might take a little longer than a couple weeks in spring to really get cookin’.