Garrett Gilbert was supposed to be the most successful quarterback June Jones has had since arriving at SMU and he is extremely talented, but it never translated on the field to consistent success. Gilbert was never fully comfortable in the pocket this season and late in the year, just started taking off to make plays. However, that cut down on his mistakes that he had made earlier in the season. Gilbert threw 13 interceptions in his first seven games, but the last five, did not throw one interception. That has to be encouraging for Mustangs fans for next season, but Gilbert has to do a better job of making plays instead of dinking and dunking.
One route that Gilbert really exploited late in the season was the curl route. Gilbert looked comfortable hitting those and when you're picking up 7-8 yards a play when you run that then the deep shots will be open more often. If Gilbert can limit mistakes and start hitting a few more deep balls next year, SMU may be a scary team passing the ball, especially with Zach Line's departure.
The Other Guys
Neal Burcham and Conner Preston continue to battle for the number two job, but the two quarterbacks took a back seat as the season wore on as Gilbert got more and more reps. Gilbert is the unquestioned starter and as of the last five games, gives the Mustangs the best chance to win, but these two will continue to battle and the extra practices will help the team build for the future. As Burcham recovers from his knee injury from his senior year of high school, he will only get better. Due to his lack of length strength, he failed to drive the ball down the field early in camp, but Burcham is as talented as they come and throws a nice, catchable ball and with time to add to his frame, is the future of SMU football.
For some reason, Preston did not get any looks late in the season. He played in the first two games of the year late in the games but after that, he did not see the field until Southern Miss for one pass attempt. If not for Burcham redshirting, Preston may have been third on the depth chart, which is baffling considering his quick release and his ability to throw it deep. While Preston is not 6-foot-5 like Gilbert, he knows the offense and can get rid of the ball quickly and accurately.
Gilbert's ability to limit mistakes and also his newfound ability to run the ball will be a bigger part of the offense for the Mustangs next year and that will help without a true feeling on who will be in the backfield next year. It will be interesting to see if Jason Phillips adds more of his Houston schemes into the offense like Jones hinted at early in the spring and if he does, that will help Gilbert get back on the right track of making plays like he did in high school.
Gilbert is the unquestioned starter and while he did not make many big plays this season, his play late in the season allowed SMU to win four of its last six and return to Hawaii. Gilbert will have to look to Jeremy Johnson next year with Darius Johnson's departure and lack of playmakers on the outside, but Gilbert-to-Johnson will continue to be a familiar phrase for Mustangs fans.
2012 Grade: B-
Position Review: Quarterbacks
Pony Stampede Top Stories
3 Up, 3 Down: SMU vs. TempleDemo has your three up, three down following SMU's loss to Temple on the road.
Pony Stampede12:32 PM
Rapid Reaction: SMU vs. TempleBilly has your rapid reaction to SMU's loss to Temple.
Pony Stampede12:20 PM
Gameday Central: SMU vs. TempleCome inside Pony Stampede' Gameday Central for the latest on SMU's road AAC matchup against Temple at 11 am CT on ESPNews.
Pony Stampede8:00 AM
Pony Stampede Podcast Sept. 28Come inside another edition of the Pony Stampede Podcast for the latest on the SMU hoops team and a TCU game breakdown.
Pony StampedeTuesday at 10:59 PM