BEVO BEAT

History indicates Texas QB Shane Buechele will only improve under Tom Herman

Posted August 29th, 2017

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If history is any guide, Shane Buechele should have a terrific sophomore year.

Sure, he already has a full year of experience under his belt. But quarterbacks simply get better under coach Tom Herman.

Buechele is 5-7 as Texas’ starting quarterback. Yet he’s the only player in school history to start the first two games of his career. And he became the first UT quarterback since Colt McCoy in 2009 to throw for more than 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns.

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Buechele’s 2,958 passing yards was the most ever by a freshman and the seventh-most in school history. He threw for more than 200 yards in 10 of 12 games and threw a touchdown pass in all but one.

And to think, odds are that Herman will make Buechele better.

As a freshman at Ohio State, Braxton Miller completed 54.1 percent of his passes for 1,159 yards in 2011. The next year, Herman arrived as the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator. Miller completed 58.3 percent of his throws for 2,039 yards.

Miller then competed 63.5 percent for 2,094 yards in 2013 and became the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year.

Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. #1 of the Houston Cougars celebrates with his coach Tom Herman after they defeated the Oklahoma Sooners 33-23 during the Advocare Texas Kickoff on September 3, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Greg Ward Jr. was an accurate passer as a Houston sophomore. Herman became the team’s head coach in 2015 and Ward only got better. He completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 2,828 yards. The next season, he hit 68 percent and threw for an eye-popping 3,557 yards.

RELATED: Texas quarterback Shane Buechele heads into opening game with a lengthy leash

“You knew this guy knows what he’s talking about,” former Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud told the American-Statesman earlier this year. Herman was the Cyclones’ offensive coordinator from 2009-11 and helped orchestrate the staggering 28-21 upset win over the Longhorns in 2010. “Coach Herman had free reign, seemed to me.”

While all the talk has focused on whether Buechele would hold off freshman Sam Ehlinger, there’s been little discussion of whether Buechele can improve to the point of slamming the door shut.

Texas quarterback Shane Buechele runs alongside Jimmy Morton (#17) and Josh Covey (#18) at a spring practice on March 21, 2017. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Maybe that hasn’t happened quite yet. Herman named Ehlinger as the offensive MVP after the team’s second August scrimmage. He’s never ruled out the possibility of Ehlinger being the starter. Throughout August, Herman discussed the merits of both players but always leaned toward Buechele.

“We’re not dynamic there,” Herman said on Aug. 19. “It’s not Vince Young. It’s not Braxton Miller. But we’re good enough to win with (the QB position).”

After being pressed to name a starter, Herman said, “I’ve said over and over again that if we played a game tomorrow, Shane Buechele will start.”

Herman wouldn’t go all in on Buechele because the generally mild-mannered athlete is just that … generally mild-mannered. Ehlinger is a maniacal wild man at times on the practice field. Early in training camp, Herman said he once heard Buechele scream on the field. “Hearing his voice is really cool,” the coach said afterward.

“Just being a young guy, trying to be a vocal leader, getting guys behind me, that’s hard being a young guy,” Buechele said. “This year, I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable being a vocal leader, which I think is really important for our offense, and our team in general.”

Senior receiver Dorian Leonard had a sneaky smile creep across his face when he was asked about Buechele. “You can see it in his eyes,” Leonard said. That echoed some other thoughts expressed by the players. They’ve seen what they believe is a better player in practice.

Will that translate to the games?

Under Herman, it appears that it always does.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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