Football

Gilbert, players address questions still surrounding Horns

Shane Buechele and Sterlin Gilbert at the Spring game. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Shane Buechele and Sterlin Gilbert at the Spring game. (Will Gallagher/IT)

AUSTIN — There remains a lot of mystery surrounding the 2016 Texas Longhorns football team. Fans still are not entirely sure what they will see on Sunday when offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s offense steps on the field for the first time. Not only do they not know what the offense will really look like, but also who will take the first snaps at quarterback. Everybody in the program has been quiet on the subject.

“No,” Gilbert responded when asked who the quarterback would be. “Not going to be today. Coach told you yesterday. We’ll all know on Sunday.”

While players and coaches will not publicly name a starter, they have expectations of whoever will be under center.

“I want somebody back there that will make the smart decision and can lead the offense,” senior offensive guard Kent Perkins said.

“To me, it doesn’t matter which one starts because they both have the ability to lead the offense the way it needs to be led in order for us to win the game,” sophomore wide receiver John Burt said.

“Every time we get on the field, we’ll do what it takes to win,” Gilbert said. “You’ll never know what that’s going to be every time you step on the field on Saturday, or be it on Sunday. Whatever it takes for us to have one more than they have, that’s what we’ll do.”

Gilbert made it clear that everyone was working from the same point in learning the new offense, from freshmen to seniors.

“The thing that all those guys started with this spring was at ground level,” Gilbert said. “I don’t know if [Shane] stepped in with a huge advantage. Playing in the spread, was it beneficial? Yeah, it was probably more beneficial than playing in the wing-T. Tyrone having experience at the collegiate level, at the end of the day they probably match up.”

Tyrone Swoopes. (Justin Wells/IT)
Tyrone Swoopes. (Justin Wells/IT)

No matter who takes the first snap, Burt is convinced this offense will help distribute the ball to people who can move it up the field.

“I feel like we always had playmakers on the field,” Burt said. “It was challenging to get all of our playmakers the ball when we needed to. So that’s what I feel like this offense brings to the table. It gives the offense more opportunities to give our playmakers the ball when we need to.”

While the offense runs at a high tempo, there is no benchmark for plays for certain players. Instead, said he will go to the hot hand.

“We don’t ever really put a number on it,” Gilbert said. “We’re going to spread it around and guys need to make plays. The guys that are doing well and catching the ball well and are playmakers are the guys that are going to end up with those kind of numbers.”

Learning something as difficult as an offense this quickly does not come without rigorous studying. Perkins said that he and his position mates are constantly learning.

“We are always in the film room,” Perkins said. “Certain blocks and certain things we do, we have certain ways of communicating. We talked about that. We talked about technique, what I can do on this type of block, this and that. We communicate a lot.”

Although attention has been focused on how the freshman and other younger players will handle the spotlight, Gilbert also will be walking into Memorial Stadium for the first time when the games count. Gilbert, however, is not nervous.

“Just being excited and just being in the moment,” Gilbert said. “Everywhere I’ve been at all levels, that’s what you do as a coach. You’re focused. You’re in the moment. You’re obviously excited and anxious about what’s about to happen. We’ll roll out there with our guys, a prepared football team and excited football team that will be highly, highly motivated. We’ll come out there and those guys will go execute and those guys job is to go play. From the sideline, we’ll just call it and they’ll ball it.