As Case McCoy warmed to enter for a struggling Garrett Gilbert Saturday night, many had to wonder if a new era at QB had begun for the Longhorns. After McCoy and David Ash led Texas to a comeback victory over BYU it certainly looked like it, and Mack Brown confirmed Monday that the pair were his "co-starters" for UCLA. Bryan Harsin has pointed out that nothing is set in stone and that Gilbert could always earn the job back, but, given what's transpired, only injury figures to make that a likelihood.
Brown committed to allowing the best man to win every job after a 2010 season in which he sensed a great deal of undeserved sense of entitlement on his team. When Brown, Harsin and Major Applewhite chose Gilbert as their starting QB for Rice, despite numerous reports that he had been outplayed for much of camp by Ash and McCoy, eyes rolled all over the state. It took only a quarter-and-a-half of Gilbert struggles against BYU, though, for Brown to pull the hook.
The one thing we've committed to ourselves and our team is that if something's not working, change it. It's a product of are you moving the ball? Are you scoring points? As a staff, we said let's try something else. The combination of David and Case worked.
Ash will have his small package of plays expanded, but McCoy will lead the team on the first drive and will probably make the majority of the throws. McCoy's presence in the huddle was touted by his teammates as a key factor in turning the tide against BYU.
Joining the QB's at the top of the depth chart for UCLA is a new lead runner - freshman Malcolm Brown. If not for the QB situation, Brown's quick ascension would be a bigger story. In the past, Mack Brown has hesitated to insert stud backs into the lineup until after the Oklahoma game. Maybe it's the fact that he has less to lose this season, but the typically conservative coach has eschewed that tradition here. Brown has very much looked the part of impact back, reliably breaking that first tackle and dramatically improving the running game himself. Fozzy Whittaker is still listed as 1a, and he'll have an important role to play on this team, but Brown has to be the man. His coach acknowledged that Monday:
He's got some special about him.
Another high profile insertion into the starting lineup is Marquise Goodwin, who will take over the Z-Receiver spot and start next to Mike Davis. Goodwin returned to the team just last week, but his speed was noticeable Saturday. Defensively, Ashton Dorsey rode a powerful game at defensive tackle (he was voted the defensive MVP by coaches in the BYU game) to a starting role this week. Manny Diaz spoke about Dorsey Tuesday:
Ashton has great quickness, and that's a great skill, especially for what we want to do defensively because we do move a lot. He's a guy that can get back there and make a play in the backfield. He's a guy that we feel like can be a really good player for us.
Texas visits a UCLA team Saturday that is not regarded as a top flight team, but they weren't considered top flight when they visited Austin last September either. That group took the fight out of them in the second half, outscoring them 34-9 from the second quarter on. It was UCLA's running game out of their 'pistol' that the Longhorns couldn't handle. The Bruins completed just five passes for 27 yards, but Johnathan Franklin & co. ran it 53 times for 274 yards. Diaz and the Texas defense will be determined to stop that this time around.
On the other side of the ball, Texas actually outgained UCLA in the game, but they didn't trust their run game - Texas backs totaled just 13 carries and lost four fumbles. Add in one Gilbert interception and it's pretty apparent what the Longhorns will have to do this year to be effective against the Bruins.