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

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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.