Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes runs from Oklahoma State's Jordan Sterns in the first quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday September 26, 2015. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

Who leads the Texas quarterback derby? Sterlin Gilbert: ‘Nobody’

How do you install an offense? 'It’s kind of like grandma’s pie. She just puts it together and it tastes good.'

Posted March 29th, 2016

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Texas offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert praised Tyrone Swoopes, Jerrod Heard and Shane Buechele, but as for who holds the lead in the quarterback race, Gilbert said, “Nobody.”

As for when he could name a starter, Gilbert said, “I’m not in a hurry to do that. What we want is these guys to be right.”

In his first meeting with reporters this spring, Gilbert touched on several topics about installing an up-tempo offense and finding the right playmakers. But he faced a barrage of questions after practice Tuesday about the biggest question on campus.

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Asked what it takes to win the quarterback job, Gilbert said, “They’ve got to be intelligent. Obviously, they’ve got to be able to throw it around and be accurate with the ball, and just understand what we do.

“If you’re an intelligent guy with a high football IQ and you equate those things, then you’ve got a guy that’s got a chance to be successful with what we do,” he added.

When spring practice began, Texas coach Charlie Strong indicated Swoopes, a senior-to-be, would work with the first-team unit mostly because of seniority. That’s still be the case, apparently. Gilbert will either make the final decision or at least have huge influence on who actually starts against Notre Dame on Sept. 3.

“You play the best guy,” Gilbert said, “then the people around him, they’ve got to raise their play and do a good job as well.”

The only player who does not appear to be in the mix is Kai Locksley, who redshirted last season. Asked if Locksley’s future could be at another position, Gilbert said, “Maybe. Right now, it’s probably too early to say as well.”

Fast, fast, fast: When reporters got to watch practice earlier this month, the offense would snap the ball anywhere from 8-10 seconds after the ball was spotted. Gilbert said he has no predetermined time between snaps, preferring to rely on feel.

As for how exactly he’s installing the offense, Gilbert said, “There’s an old truth. It’s kind of like grandma’s pie. She just puts it together and it tastes good. That’s kind of how it happens. There’s not really a set-up receive for it.”

Gilbert also played coy when asked who might be his best playmaker. “We’re still trying to fit the pieces and where guys are going to go,” he said.

Gilbert admitted the returning coaches are familiar with the players, but the new offensive staff decided to “clean slate ‘em all.”

Watson at Indiana: Former Texas play-caller Shawn Watson has been hired as a quality control assistant at Indiana, Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson told reporters after Tuesday’s morning practice.

Watson kept a low profile since being dismissed by Texas coach Charlie Strong in December. He came to Austin as the Longhorns’ quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator in January 2014 and served as the team’s primary play-caller for 14 games.

Strong took the play-calling duties away from Watson after the 2015 season-opening loss at Notre Dame. Strong turned those duties over to then-receivers coach Jay Norvell. After being demoted, Watson did not speak to reporters again the rest of the season.

Quality control assistants are positions generally reserved for those coming up through the coaching ranks. Watson was the offensive coordinator at Colorado (2000-05) and Nebraska (2007-10) before joining Strong in Louisville.

Briefly: Earl Campbell, who celebrated his 61st birthday on Tuesday, and Vince Young both attended practice.

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