TEXAS’ FIRST-WORLD PROBLEM AT QUARTERBACK
Buechele isn’t going to be confused for a dual-threat. But what Buechele lacks in running ability, he makes up for in smarts, poise, accuracy and touch.
Bottom line is he processes information quickly, makes good decisions, has a quick release, gets the ball out of his hands on time and - probably most importantly - not much rattles him.
And this coaching staff, it seems, has done a lot to see if they can rattle him - from Herman talking up early enrollee freshman Sam Ehlinger’s presence as an “alpha” on National Signing Day (a description Herman has never used for Buechele) to Herman’s loud, vocal criticism of Buechele in front of the team in the very first spring practice - complete with up-downs in front of his teammates - for committing two turnovers.
Then, there’s the relentless pressure from the defense in every practice.
And through it all, Buechele is making good decisions, playing with confidence, staying buried in his playbook and doing it all with the incredibly steady, even temperament that allowed him to come out and lead a come-from-behind, touchdown drive late in the game against Notre Dame in his very first start. (That probably would’ve been the game-winning drive if not for a blocked extra point returned for two points by the Irish that ultimately forced overtime).
Buechele may still not look like much physically - especially when standing next to Ehlinger, who is already a grown man at 6-2 and 215 pounds and is a much better run threat than Buechele.
But what Buechele is - is a winner. He’s probably the reason Notre Dame QB Malik Zaire, who plans to announce his destination as a grad transfer this month, is leaning more toward Wisconsin or Florida than Texas, according to my source close to the situation.
None of the Texas coaches will come out and say it, but I believe they think Buechele is a guy they can win with this season. And Herman’s scanning of “the waiver wire” for a grad transfer QB could very well be an attempt - not only to add competition and depth - but also to have the option of redshirting Ehlinger.
Again, no one has said that to me, and I think Herman would absolutely deny that publicly. The competition between Buechele and Ehlinger is only nine practices old.
Last Thursday, when assessing Buechele and Ehlinger thus far, Herman said you can tell Buechele has started 12 college football games, adding Buechele has “some seasoned-ness to him.”
“Practicing against this defense is as hard as it gets for a quarterback in terms of protections and checks and runs, because it feels like they’ve got 15 guys on the field at all times,” Herman said.
“So it’s difficult. But you can tell he (Buechele) has got some poise back there and some game experience where it’s not too fast for him.
“Sam, it’s still pretty fast for him. But you see glimpses. When things are clean, he (Ehlinger) makes some nice throws, makes some good decisions. So I think you can win with either one of them. With Shane right now, you can tell he’s got a little bit of experience.”
If a grad transfer could be found, you could have Buechele and the grad transfer as the No. 1 and 2 in the two-deep while reserving the right to redshirt Ehlinger. But the grad transfer pool is getting more shallow by the day, it seems.
Duke's Thomas Sirk announced this week he'll be a grad transfer QB at East Carolina:
Sirk suffered Achilles injuries in 2013 and 2016 that sidelined him at Duke. But in 2015, Sirk, a dual-threat QB, completed 58.8 percent of his passes (251 of 427) for 2,625 yards with 16 TDs and 8 INTs while rushing 163 times for 803 yards (4.9 ypc) and 8 TDs on the ground.
Finding a grad transfer may not work out. There may be no viable option after Kyle Allen chose to stay at Houston with Major Applewhite, LSU’s Brandon Harris announced he’s committed to North Carolina and then Sirk committing to East Carolina.
“We keep checking the waiver wire,” Herman said. “We gotta make sure we can get them into school. That’s an issue here in our graduate school.
“Hopefully, we can find one to provide some depth and competition in that room. If not, that’s OK, we’ll go in with two and figure it out. That’s not going to be the end of the world. The main thing is we’ve got to find a guy who can get into school.”
Even for someone who can get into school, Buechele is going to make it hard for any grad transfer to come in and think he can win the job - especially enrolling in June, when Buechele has had the spring to learn the offense.
We’ll see how it plays out. But as of right now, Buechele’s quiet fire, even demeanor and mental toughness while learning a new offense has a very strong good-news, bad-news component for Herman’s waiver-wire scanning.
The good news is - even with how rough the offense has looked in the first two scrimmages - the coaches have probably seen enough to know Buechele is a quarterback they can win with.
The bad news is Buechele may be making it hard to attract a grad transfer - let alone a grad transfer who can qualify. And because of that, Texas might not have the option of redshirting Ehlinger - if indeed that ends up being something they’d like to do.
Kyle Allen was absolutely the planned grad transfer QB until Applewhite got the Houston job. Then, Herman and his staff had to find Plan B. And they're still looking.
Any conversation about the need for a grad transfer QB to keep alive the possibility of redshirting Ehlinger is entirely premature, because Herman has said he doesn’t plan to name a starting quarterback until a week or so into fall camp.
He wants to give Buechele and Ehlinger the summer to continue competing for the job. But coaches are always thinking ahead and trying to give themselves and their team the most options possible to succeed - right now as well as a year and two years from now.
A LONGHORN LEGACY VYING TO BE UT’S QB NO. 3
A little more on potential No. 3 quarterback - redshirt sophomore walk-on Josh Covey of Georgetown East View:
I told you back on March 22 …
… to file the name of Covey (pronounced COE-vee) away in the back of your mind after Tom Herman mentioned him two weeks ago as a possible No. 3 QB for Texas this season.
Covey completed 65.4 percent of his passes (100 of 153) for 1,740 yards with 19 TDs and 5 INTs in eight games played his senior year at Georgetown East View, which opened Covey’s freshman year.
Covey, who went 6-2 as the starting QB at East View, also ran 30 times for 82 yards (2.7 ypc) and 2 TDs his senior season, when East View tied for the district championship with Cedar Park, Vista Ridge and Vandegrift.
A two-time member of the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll as an electrical engineering major, Covey was the valedictorian at East View.
Covey is the son of former Texas Longhorns DB Mark Covey (1975-78) and Williamson County commissioner Valerie Covey, who is also a UT grad.
“I wish I could take some credit for the smarts and athleticism,” Mark Covey told HD. “But his mom played college basketball for two years at Schreiner (University) before transferring to Texas and becoming a certified public accountant.”
Josh Covey was a starter on East View’s basketball team and also member of the school’s 4x100 track relay team.
“East View opened as a high school Josh’s freshman year,” said East View football coach Robert Davies. “And Josh was always a good athlete. But his ability to lead a startup program to the playoffs his junior year and to a share of the district championship his senior year just says so much about him.
“His brand of positive leadership played such a big role in our ability to get the East View program up-and-running and thriving.
“Good for Coach (Tom) Herman and Coach (Tim) Beck to see the talent they have in Josh and to see where this can go. From a backup quarterback standpoint, Josh processes information really fast and doesn’t require a lot of reps to execute the offense because of his intelligence. And his athleticism is legit. The kid throws the ball really well, and he can scoot.”
For now, Josh Covey is vying to become the holder on field goals and is signaling plays in from the sideline.
“Josh would love to play,” Davies said. “But more than anything, he just wants to help Texas. He could’ve gone to an Ivy League school and played. But his parents went to Texas, and he grew up wanting to go to UT, too.”
Mark Covey, who retired from a career in sales after graduating with a journalism degree at Texas, said Josh used spring break last month to catch up on his electrical engineering classes.
“He’s been working so hard trying to juggle life as a walk-on football player, he used a big part of spring break to study,” Mark Covey said.
“I was looking at his electrical engineering over spring break, and I was just shaking my head. It’s like a foreign language to me.
“But probably what I’m most proud of is Josh’s determination. Life as a walk-on can be like that of a second-rate citizen. Those guys don’t get a lot of respect, but Josh has earned his teammates’ respect - and the respect of his coaches.”
Herman said of Covey (6-1, 200), who wears No. 18, “He might be a better option at third-string quarterback than Jerrod (Heard).”
Herman sounded impressed with Covey's ability to throw the ball and with Covey’s athleticism.
"The kid can run a little bit and threw the ball pretty well," Herman said.
CALLING JEAN DELANCE …
Either sophomore OT Jean Delance has fallen off or the coaches are considering redshirting him - or both - because he’s nowhere to be found among the ones and twos.
Tom Herman said sophomore OT Denzel Okafor was a candidate to challenge for the starting RT position along with senior OT Tristan Nickelson (while OT Brandon Hodges is being held out of spring football to focus on his academics).
Herman said on Tuesday the team needs to find a fourth OT. Calling Jean Delance …
THE KRAKEN AND HIS LIL' BRO …
This past week was Brandon Jones’ birthday, and Elliott sent out a tweet wishing Jones a happy birthday and referring to Jones as “my little bro.”
The Kraken was the “Freak Of The Week” for his defensive performance in last Saturday’s scrimmage, and then he goes and says this:
Speaking of getting hit in the mouth, anyone checked in on Notre Dame WR Torii Hunter Jr.?