The quarterback chronicles

Shane Buechele (Will Gallagher/IT)

Shane Buechele (Will Gallagher/IT)

Texas has a quarterback who is clearly the most physical at his position. Another UT quarterback is more experienced, and is thus more familiar with the team’s system. A third has a very special skill set, unique to the others, and also sees very important playing time.

All three won a great many football games in high school. All three have won games as starting quarterbacks for Texas.

The year is 1983.

And 2017.

Because We’re Texas, well, except for a very few seasons over the course of the last 35 or so, there has been discussion – controversy? – about who the burnt orange signal caller should be. Heck, it was once very seriously suggested that even the best quarterback in Texas history, Vince Young in case you are wondering, might want to learn how to run routes instead of an offense.

It’s who we are.

Which brings us to now.

In 1983, the names were Todd Dodge, Rob Moerschell and Rick McIvor. Dodge had experience and intelligently directed the run-oriented offense; he was Shane Buechele Light. Moerschell was a quarterback with a linebacker’s soul, a runner who could absolutely play receiver or return punts for you, too, and hold on kicks. His nickname should’ve been Whatever Needs To Be Done. He was Sam Ehlinger minus 40 pounds and a big arm.

Then there was McIvor. Like Jerrod Heard, he did things the other quarterbacks on the team could not do. His arm was without peer, and ultimately landed him in the National Football League. If you want to entertain yourself, check out the 1983 Texas-Texas A&M football game, in which Texas scored 45 consecutive points, which included four McIvor touchdown passes. He passed like Heard runs.

The one significant difference between 1983 and 2017, of course, is that the current Texas team has already lost twice as many games as the 1983 version. However, 30+ years later, Texas coaches, fans and media are still talking about the same thing: Who should be the quarterback?

The answer is Buechele.

Yes, I saw the USC game. Yes, Ehlinger is the future for Texas under center. Yes, I saw the comeback. Yes, I love the gunslinger aspect to his game. But yes, I saw other stuff, too.

So yes, I want Buechele to be the starter next Thursday night. He’s more experienced, he’s more rational and he has a clear understanding of the value of being sacked with the ball tucked safely in his arms. Ehlinger’s time is coming; now is not that time.

And though it won’t happen (after all, it hasn’t happened in the last 30+ years), Texas fans need to let the quarterback “thing” play out; there is absolutely no reason for anyone, certainly not Tom Herman, to make any emphatic proclamations about who the starting quarterback is, or will, be.

In 2017, as in 1983 (and 2001 for that matter), Texas fans want to crown someone as The Quarterback, The Starter, The One right now. There is no middle ground at Texas with quarterbacks. No one liked Chris Simms AND Major Applewhite; you had to choose. And everyone did. And it was toxic in the locker room.

For now, the best thing for Herman is to not choose an emphatic starting quarterback at all. The best thing for him to do is exactly what he is currently doing: stay non-committal, keep all of the quarterbacks believing they each have the opportunity to ultimately become The Man and don’t tell the media squat.

Ultimately – maybe sooner than later – the quarterback “thing” will resolve itself. Certainly there will be a time when it will be beneficial for the team to name a “permanent” starting quarterback. Now is not that time.

Buechele needs to start next Thursday. Someone else might start the next game, but this team is not good enough to think about the next game. No permanent decisions need to be made now. Who gives UT the best chance to beat Iowa State? Buechele. Herman needs to stay flexible and keep the anointing oil locked in one of those nice new locker stalls.

And he needs to make sure McIvor stays loose on the sideline