Garrett Gilbert: Same old, same old?

Going into the season opener, one of the biggest question marks for the 2011 Longhorns was the QB position.  Many who weren't able to watch the first game of the season against Rice, might just look at the box score and say, "same old inaccurate Garrett Gilbert."  But is that statement true?  His stat line from this past Saturday might be indicative of just that:  13-23 239 1 TD 0 INT.  I was talking to a friend on Sunday who wasn't able to watch the game and said, "yeah he didn't turn the ball over, but he was 13-23."  My first impression was that Gilbert managed the game well, but 57% passing doesn't seem to suggest that.  I went back and examined all 29 of Gilberts pass attempts to see exactly what went on.  I made a few notes on each attempt to detail what I saw.  The findings might surprise you after the jump.



Pass 1:  3rd 8 - Texas goes 4 wide with 2 receivers to each side.  Both split-ends run 9 routes with the slot receivers running 5-yard outs behind them.  Because it's 3rd and long, Rice is able to keep both safeties deep and play man underneath.  4 WRs against 7 defenders.  Gilbert just reads one man on the play (Shipley) and throws the ball down and away from the defender.  GRADE:  could've been completed, but wouldn't have had the 1st down, so no harm in the incompletion here.  (0-1 0 yds)

Drive Summary:  Poor pass, but it wouldn't have resulted in a 1st down had it been completed.  There were no other receiving options open. 


Pass 2:  1st 10 - Out of the shotgun, Gilbert finds Fozzy on an easy throw and catch for 12 yards.  It was a simple swing pass, which was wide open due to some screening in the routes by the TE and WR on that side.  Harsin gives Gilbert an easy throw to build confidence and Gilbert delivers.  GRADE:  makes the proper throw. (1-2 12 yds)

Pass 3:  1st 25 - After a nice run gets called back on a chop block, Gilbert play fakes and finds Mike Davis streaking down the field for 56 yards.  GRADE:  beautiful throw and catch. (2-3 68 yds)

Pass 4:  2nd 7 - Gilbert completes a quick screen pass to Whittaker for only a 2 yard gain.  GRADE: pass was accurate and Fozzy was able to get upfield quickly.  Walters and Hopkins pull out and block absolutely no one.  (3-4 70 yds)

Pass 5:  3rd 5 - Mike Davis motions to the short side of the field and runs a curl route.  Davis really does a poor job coming back to the ball after he turns.  He waits for the ball and allows the corner to come in and break up the pass.  Had Davis continued his route back two steps the pass would've been completed and Texas would've had the first down.  Shipley also ran a curl to the other side of the field and was wide open, but it seems as if this was a predetermined read with the motion of Davis to a side by himself.  Texas has to settle for a field goal instead of continuing in for a TD.  GRADE:  accurate throw, on-time.   Poor route by Davis. (3-5 70 yds)

Drive Summary:  Gilbert completes 3 of 4 on this drive.  Two were short easy completions, one was a well-thrown ball broken up due to a poor route, and one was a beautiful deep ball down the field.


Pass 6:  1st 10 - Texas goes empty set and Davis again lets his QB down dropping the ball on a five yard stop route.  The DB was playing off and this should've been an easy pitch and catch.  GRADE:  accurate throw, dropped. (3-6 70 yds)

Pass 7:  2nd 10 - Texas motions into 22 personnel and runs play-action.  Gilbert throws to his initial read, Mike Davis, who hears the footsteps and drops another pass.  The pass was well thrown down the field and Davis, for the third play in a row, lets Gilbert down.  On a side note, it looks as if Gilbert had Irby down the middle of the field for a huge gain.  It is clear, however, that Davis was the 1st read, he was open, and the catch was not made.  GRADE:  accurate throw, dropped. (3-7 70 yds)

Pass 8:  3rd 10 - With Texas now in a clear passing situation, Rice is able to get pressure on Gilbert and force him out of the pocket.  Gilbert throws on the run to a wide-open Darius White who drops the ball.  The throw was low, but still catchable (around the knees).  Three straight drops by the wide outs kills this drive before it can get going.  An FBS wide out barely moving has to make that catch.  GRADE: this incompletion is on White.  (3-8 70 yds)

Drive Summary:  Drops are killing the offense right now.  Gilbert is 0-3 on the drive, but the wide receivers really let him down on all three pass attempts.


Texas gets the ball after the fumbled punt return, and attempts zero passes as they score their 1st touchdown.


Pass 9:  3rd 2 - Texas is in 22 personnel and looks like they will try to pound the ball for the 1st down.  Gilbert runs play-action and all his receivers are well covered as he rolls out.  Gilbert is able to extend the play with his feet and runs 24 yards for a 1st down.  GRADE:  nice improvisation for a 1st down. (3-8 70 yds)

Pass 10:  2nd 4 - After a nice 1st down run from Whittaker, Texas goes 4 wide on 2nd down.  The primary read is a 5 yard hitch to Davis, but he is covered.  Gilbert looks at another target and then notices the rush in front him.  He scrambles to his left and is able to find Darius White for a 10 yard completion and a 1st down.  GRADE:  nice improvisation, accurate throw on the run. (4-9 80 yds)

Pass 11:  1st 10 - Texas goes play action trying to get the kill shot.  Rice brings 7 defenders on the blitz.  O-line and backs to an admirable job of picking it up.  Gilbert makes a poor throw attempting to slide in the pocket.  The ball is uncatchable for Mike Davis, bouncing at his feet.  GRADE:  This one is squarely on Gilbert.  It wasn't a clean pocket, but this is Div-1 football.  He needs to make that completion. (4-10 80 yds)

Pass 12:  2nd Goal 10 - After a near TD on a jet sweep to Shipley, and a blocking assignment miscue on 1st down, Gilbert finds Davis on an "in" route for 4 yards.  This was Gilberts primary read and he fired it in quickly between two defenders.  Had Gilbert looked on, he had Darius Terrell one on one to the corner of the endzone.  GRADE:  Could've taken a shot into the endzone, but executed an accurate throw and catch none the less.  (5-11 84 yds)

Pass 13:  3rd Goal 6 - This play is easily Gilberts worst throw of the ballgame.  The play is discombobulated from the beginning.  Texas would've gotten a procedure penalty had they scored.  Gilbert watches John Harris all the way through his rounded attempt at a slant pattern.  The middle linebacker follows Gilbert's eyes and should've intercepted the pass.  Shipley was breaking open over the middle had Gilbert not predetermined where he was going pre-snap.  GRADE:  poor read, poor route, procedure penalty, should've been intercepted.  This play was dead from the beginning.  Gilbert needs to recognize this and call timeout to reset.  (5-12 84 yds)

Drive Summary:  This drive was a real mixed bag for Garrett.  He had some great plays to start the drive, missed on a TD pass, and then got away with one late.  This is also the only drive Gilbert is allowed to attempt a pass in the red zone.  After the results of the last three passes, we can see why.


Pass 14:  1st 10 - With time running out in the first half, Gilbert his Whittaker in stride on a well executed screen pass for 15 yards and a first down.  GRADE:  Gilbert is making the easy throws, which is all he needs to do for us to be successful in a game like this.  (6-13 99yds)

Pass 15:  1st 10 - Gilbert completes a bubble screen to Rice, but they were ready for it and tackle Shipley for a two yard loss.  The play is erased because of another procedure penalty.  GRADE:  The pass was fine.   Rice was ready for the screen with the half winding down, and Onyegbule didn't give a great block on the play. (6-13 99yds)

Pass 16:  1st 15 - With Rice playing soft zone, Gilbert finds John Harris across the middle for an easy 10 yard completion.  GRADE:  accurate pass.  (7-14 109 yds)

Pass 17:  2nd 5 - Gilbert's primary receiver is covered so he skirts to his left and passes up an easy checkdown to Cody Johnson for a 1st down.  Gilbert decides to try and run out of bounds and doesn't feel the pressure behind him.  He gets tackles in bounds for no gain and Texas is forced to use a timeout.  GRADE:  this lack of awareness play is one that Garrett needs to work on.  The check down was there and his inability to get rid of the ball and get the first down eventually cost Texas the opportunity to continue the drive. (7-14 109 yds)

Pass 18:  3rd 5 - Because of the pressure on the previous play, Gilbert quickly gives up on the vertical routes and checks the ball down to Cody Johnson for a 4 yard gain short of the sticks.  Drive over.  GRADE:  Without having the ability to see what was going on down the field, Gilbert made a good throw on his check down, but Johnson was not able to make a man miss to get the first down.  I'd much rather see this conservative approach versus the chuck it downfield into coverage and get picked method. (8-15 113 yds)

Drive Summary:  Gilbert completed all four of his passes on this drive even though one was negated by penalty.  All the passes were accurate and on time, though none of them were down the field.  The one bad decision to not check the ball down ended up costing  the drive and the chance for a late field goal attempt.


1st Half Summary:  If you take away the 56 yard completion, his numbers look atrocious (7-14 57 yds), but as you take a closer look, most of the miscues are not on Gilbert.  So out of 18 first half pass attempts I count 13 accurate passes, 1 nice run, 0 sacks, 4 drops, 1 break-up due to a bad route, 3 poor throws with one of those being an extremely poor decision.  Also, take note that, save for the long completion to Davis, almost all of the throws were close to the line of scrimmage and/or to stationary or slow moving targets.  You can see how Harsin did everything possible to make the game easy for Garrett. 

I don't have it in me to do as detailed an approach on the 2nd half, but here's a summary.  Stat line: 5-8 126 1TD

Pass 1:  Incomplete to Davis on fly route. (0-1 0 yds)  Throw is over the wrong shoulder.

Pass 2:  Hits Shipley for 18 yards. (1-2 18 yds)  Nice strike down the field on passing down.

Pass 3:  Sacked.  Cody Johnson does a poor job of blitz pick-up and Gilbert gets tackled before he has a chance to get rid of the ball.

Pass 4:  Sacked.  Whittaker does a poor job in blitz pick-up as he blocks the outside man and leaves a free inside rusher.  Gilbert exacerbates the problem by trying to lateral the ball back to Fozzy as he goes down.  (2nd poor decision of the game)

Pass 5:  Complete to Darius White for 13 yards. (2-3 31 yds)  Gilbert does a great job of escaping a sack before the pass.

Pass 6:  Irby drops the pass (2-4 31 yds)  That's five total drops on the receivers and tight ends if your counting at home.

Pass 7:  Pass complete to Mike Davis for 55 yards. (3-5 86 yds)  Harsin loves the play action deep ball deep in his own end.

Pass 8:  Pass complete to Dominique Jones for 14 yards. (4-6 100 yds)  Don't like how Gilbert is falling away from contact on this throw, but with his arm strength he able to power the ball downfield anyways.

Pass 9:  Just overshoots Davis again on fly route. (4-7 100 yds)  Not enough air on this ball.

Pass 10:  Pass complete to Davis for 5 yards. (negated by penalty)

Pass 11:  Screen pass to Whittaker complete for 26 yards and a touchdown. (5-8 126 yds 1 TD)  Great play execution on a 2nd and 14 deep in Rice territory. 

So what's the conclusion?  What kind of progress did we see in Mr. Gilbert?  Garrett dropped back to pass 29 times in the game.  Two of those plays were negated by penalties so we'll take it down to 27.  He had two plays that were awful, but didn't result in turnovers.  He had 3-4 passes he'd like to have back.  He was sacked 2 times, but those weren't really his fault.  His final stat line of 13-23 239 1 TD 0 INTs might suggest that he was inaccurate with the football.  But a closer investigation shows that the receivers really hampered the offense early in this game.  Garrett managed the game really well.  Can he be better, for sure.  But what if the receivers had caught those 6 balls, which would've resulted in around 40 yards?  How does a stat line of 19-23 279 1 TD and 0 INT look?  And who knows how those early drives would've panned out had those passes been completed.  BYU will offer a much stiffer test on Saturday, but I have to say that I am very content with the performance of Gilbert after game #1.

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