Mac Engel

Quarterbacks have flipped script at A&M and Texas

Texas quarterback Shane Buechele shined in the Longhorns’ spring game, leading coach Charlie Strong to say that he will play in the fall.
Texas quarterback Shane Buechele shined in the Longhorns’ spring game, leading coach Charlie Strong to say that he will play in the fall. AP

The future of the great state a Texas’ two highest-paid state employees is directly tied to two new quarterbacks: One is a senior who defeated Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, the other was in high school in December.

Give me the kid who can’t drink (legally).

Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin’s continued butchering of the quarterback position has left him no choice but to pray that an Oklahoma retread can do something in the SEC that he could not in the Big 12.

Godspeed to the captain of the SwagCopter.

Meanwhile, Longhorns coach Charlie Strong may have indeed found the savior quarterback that he desperately needs to prove he knows what he’s doing in Austin before the throng of rich boosters have him repositioned to assistant women’s golf coach.

The irony is that one year ago no team in Texas was better off at the most important position in the game than the Aggies. Now, it’s a disaster. And one year later, the Horns have hope whereas the Aggies have little.

Both situations stink, but give me Shane Buechele over Trevor Knight.

While Coach Cool has named Knight the Aggies’ starting QB, Strong has, thus far, resisted the considerable pressure to name Buechele the starting quarterback today. He has not, nor should he.

Watching Tyrone Swoopes or Jerrod Heard is enough to make any Longhorns coach, university president or fan pine for Buechele, but Strong can’t make this switch yet.

Strong knows what he has in Swoopes and Heard, but it does not matter — he has to wait. The ’Horns’ schedule is terrible for a true freshman quarterback.

The Longhorns’ first game of the season is against Notre Dame on Sept. 4 in Austin. It’s on a Sunday, meaning not only will the eyes of Texas be upon Buechele but so will the rest of America’s. There are no NFL games that day and UT-ND will be the day’s featured event.

That is a big plate for any quarterback, especially for a kid whose last big game was against Mansfield when he played at Lamar.

It is one thing for Buechele to look great against his teammates in a friendly atmosphere, such as he did in the UT Orange and White game over the weekend. It is quite another to turn in that same performance against Notre Dame in front of more than 100,000 and a national TV audience.

Anybody who watched Notre Dame’s 38-3 neutering of Bevo last season in South Bend remembers the sports tragedy that was the quarterback position.

Buechele cannot be any worse than the combination of two of the nicest young men you could ever meet — Swoopes and Heard.

Regardless, Strong must wait to start Buechele. Heard should be the starting quarterback against Notre Dame, and the following week against UTEP and then against California in Berkeley. UT’s first Big 12 game is at T. Boone State University in Stillwater.

That is too much for a freshman. The last thing Strong can afford is to overexpose Buechele and put him in a situation where his confidence will be shattered; he may have a good arm and look good in a scrimmage, but he is still a kid.

Buechele’s rapid development is likely the only thing that can save Strong’s job; #TexasStrong is 11-14 in two seasons with zero winning records and worrisome developments. It hasn’t had three consecutive losing seasons since the 1930s.

His teams can “be young” for only so long before they are just not any good. Strong needs eight wins and a developing quarterback to avoid any “should he be fired?” questions.

Down the road in College Station, the “young developing quarterbacks” — Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray — both left, which leaves Sumlin to start a guy who was benched last season in Norman.

This is what we call “having to make the best” of it. Letting Allen leave will be Sumlin’s undoing.

As a college player thus far, Knight is the ultimate one-hit wonder who made his career in OU’s upset win over Alabama in the 2014 Sugar Bowl. Knight was spectacular as he passed for nearly 350 yards with four touchdowns. But did Alabama mail it in because it was not in the national title game?

That’s not fair to Knight because he did it; what he did not do was follow it up as a sophomore. Then, last season, he was benched in favor of Baker Mayfield.

The only significant time Knight saw last season was in relief of the injured Mayfield, where he was terrible at home against TCU.

That’s the player who is going to save Texas A&M and Sumlin.

Neither situation is ideal, but there is evidence to know what Heard, Swoopes and Knight can and cannot do. With Buechele, there is hope.

That’s why UT is in a better position than A&M.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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