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Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2000

Texas deals with QB shuffle

September 23, 2000

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It was interesting to hear Texas coach Mack Brown's diagnosis of the Longhorns' biggest problem in their 27-24 loss to Stanford on Saturday.

"We made some big plays, but we didn't have the consistency that we needed," he said.

And what's been the most inconsistent part about the Texas team this season? The handling of the quarterbacks.

Chris Simms started the opener, but Major Applewhite got the most playing time.

Applewhite started against Stanford, but Simms alternated with him every two series until the game was on the line. Then it was all Applewhite.

There's no pattern to the quarterback position for the Longhorns. When there's no pattern, there's inconsistency.

Contrast that to another Big 12 coach, Kansas State's Bill Snyder. If anything, Snyder is consistent. He treats his quarterbacks the same, regardless of who's the fan favorite.

Like Texas' Applewhite, Kansas State has a proven, veteran starter in Jonathan Beasley. Like Applewhite, Beasley isn't the best athlete Kansas State has at the position, but he gets results.

Like Texas' Simms, Kansas State has a gifted young quarterback, redshirt freshman Ell Roberson. Just as a significant portion of the Texas fan base calls for Simms to play every time Applewhite throws an incompletion, Kansas State fans have been clamoring for Roberson to unseat Beasley.

Roberson has been built up as the next Michael Bishop, the kind of athlete who can lead the Wildcats to a win over Nebraska. Beasley couldn't do that last year, but Beasley did lead Kansas State to an 11-1 season.

When Beasley was in the middle of a so-so performance in the season opener against Iowa, Snyder stuck with him.

There's no question at Kansas State who the starter is, because there's no question in Snyder's mind that a starter has to lose his job.

Which raises the question: What has Applewhite done to lose his job? And what message does it send to the rest of Texas' team if a guy such as Applewhite can be easily replaced?

The Texas and K-State philosophies are as different as their non-conference schedules. Kansas State has yet to play anyone nearly as good as Stanford.

Texas' young and talented receiving corps would be helped by having one starter. It's hard enough to develop timing and rhythm with one quarterback. There are other, more subtle benefits to having one starter. Even if the starter makes mistakes, the team knows who's in charge.

At some point, Brown will have to stick with either Applewhite or Simms. As harmonious as this quarterback battle has been, it's hard to play football looking over your shoulder.

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