60 days, 60 stats: No. 31

Each day, as a countdown to fall camp opening Aug. 2, we are going to provide you with a number that was important in 2011 and let you know why it will be important in 2012.

Garrett Gilbert came out with confidence and a cannon.

A 26-yard touchdown pass and a 56-yard bomb in the first game and the thought was the junior quarterback was indeed the man for Texas in 2011. He only threw eight passes after that game, two of which were interceptions, bringing his season total to 31.

So much for having a quarterback in 2011.

Inside the number

The trials and failures of Garrett Gilbert’s tenure at Texas have been detailed ad nauseam. And the blame has been spread to all parties involved.

The problem for Texas is the ramifications of its misstep with Gilbert are still being felt, with year two of the aftershocks upon Texas. Whether or not the Longhorns can gain stable footing is going to be a question.

What Texas needs is for David Ash to come out poised in the first three games so that there are no questions. Seeing as how those games are against Wyoming, New Mexico and Ole Miss that should not be a huge problem.

There had been some talk among the coaches of trying to play Case McCoy the third series of each game. That could backfire horribly.

If Ash is playing well it could undermine his confidence. It could also divide the team. It’s only natural for players to have their favorite leaders. And McCoy, even though he does not have the better arm, is much more charismatic and engaging as a leader.

Where it counts in 2012

Mack Brown and co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin have continued to say they need to have two quarterbacks ready who can play. To be successful though, Texas really only needs one quarterback. Developing and allowing two different quarterbacks to believe they are going to be a part of the game plan only serves to muddle things in what is still a rather immature offense.

Now there will be some garbage time in the second half of the first three games. This is where McCoy and even Connor Brewer should see playing time -- not during the meat of the game in the first half.

Undoubtedly Brown will get at least one of them -- McCoy most likely -- time during those fourth quarters. (He did not do that in 2009 for Gilbert, which stifled his development.) Playing McCoy or Brewer at that point does not at all muddy the quarterback waters no matter the performance of either. Instead it sends a clear message to the team and the fans that Ash is the starter and these other two are just learning behind him.

Of course, all of this is contingent upon Ash learning how to be a quarterback before September rolls around. If he doesn’t then Texas could have another 2011 situation on its hands.