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Southern Methodist Has Two Quarterbacks, One Job.

Following Garret Gilberts superb 2013, Neal Burcham and Matt Davis enter fall camp in something resembling a quarterback controversy.

Neal Burcham is pretty, good at football.
Neal Burcham is pretty, good at football.
Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013 Garrett Gilbert threw for 3528 yards. He attempted 504 passes, of which, 21 resulted in touchdowns and only 7 were intercepted. He finished fourth in the country with 352.8 passing yards per game. Garrett Gilbert threw for more yards per game than Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Bryce Petty. In 2013 Garrett Gilbert finished the season with 424 rushing yards. In 2013, against Temple, Garret Gilbert came up three yards short of becoming only the second player in NCAA history to pass for 500 yards and rush for 100, in the same game. Which, if completed would have become the greatest trivia question in history. In 2013, Garrett Gilbert was quietly very very good. In 2013, under the wise wing of Hal Mumme, Garrett Gilbert reclaimed some of the incandescence which was, after leaving Austin Lake Travis as a five-star recruit, so blinding. Oh, and all those gaudy numbers above fail to mention that Gilbert Missed the final two games of the season with an injury. Yes, 2013 saw a lot of wonderful things from the right arm of Garrett Gilbert. But, it's not 2013 anymore and Garrett Gilbert has moved on to the wonderful (i.e. paid, like he will be able to receive a paycheck for the absurd amount of work he has to put into his vocation) on the other side of the shield. Kudos Garrett.

I really thought we had something long-term, Garrett. Why did you leave us, Garrett? Is St. Louis really that special, Garrett?

But, where does that leave those of us in Highland Park? I should kill thee with much cherishing. Good Bye, Good Bye! Parting is such sweet sorrow. I shall say good night till it be morrow.

***

Stop me if you've heard this story before.

A truly great quarterback, enjoying a season of national, if not historical prominence, around whom the entire offense has been revolving with the clarity and precision of an Italian sports, suffers a crucial injury in an important game which forces a highly regarded wunderkind to step into the spotlight before anyone considers the velvet-horned apprentice ready or able.

Where, oh where in the world of college football have we heard that story before?
 
***
Neal Burcham - The Future? 
 
There is a fascinating parallel to the college-career debuts of both Garrett Gilbert and penciled-in-2014-presumed starter Neal Burcham. The 2010 National Championship game between Alabama and Texas is most odious in the minds of Texas fans for it's forced arrival of Gilbert. Similar circumstances saw the arrival of Neal Burcham, last year as Gilbert, on pace to lead the nation in total offense, suffered a season-ending injury against South Florida pushing Burcham into the suddenly vacant drivers seat.
 
The Greenbrier, Arkansas native, a former Elite 11 quarterback who received a small handful of mid-major offers, is the presumed starter heading into the 2014 season. At the risk of sounding overly critical, Burcham did little to impress fans during his brief stint as QB in 2013. As a starter Burcham completed only 64 passes for 556 yards. He threw two touchdown passes and four picks. Which, while not great, is not the most troubling aspect of his brief 2013 campaign. The injury Burcham suffered against Central Florida is perhaps the most ominous event to occur to the Arkansan last year. Coming out of high school, his talent was not necessarily in doubt, as he threw for many touchdowns and even more yards. Equally impressive was the young man's performance at the Elite 11 camp in California. But, that's all well and good. The truth of the matter is that the only reason a preternaturally talented athlete ends up at a program like ours at SMU is through, perhaps, extenuating circumstances. Recent examples include:
 
1) Garrett Gilbert fleeing all kinds of Bad JuJu at Texas.
 
2) Neal Burcham, a real sleeper according to ESPN, is, considered small/injury prone/undersized.
 
3) Matt Davis (we'll get to him later.)  
 
Burcham's injury may only be one isolated event, or it might betray a greater tendency. Right now, whether his body will be able to withstand the (at this point in research and scientific inquiry into the sport, it is fair to say) barbaric and stupid game of football, is impossible to know at this time. However, in his favor, during the Central Florida game, which saw Burcham's injury, it snowed, like for real, no BS. And the game was in Dallas. And I doubt anyone is pointing to that data point claiming a high likely hood of snow in Dallas again this football season. Stats are dumb. People are dumb.
 
According to the most recent rumblings to come out of camp, Burcham is taking reps with the first team. However, 23 days stand between our piggish appetites and the glorious feed trough of college football and in 23 days, an infinite fractal of events could take place, each leading to Neals displacement from the throne by -
 
Matt Davis - The Usurper?
 
Matt Davis very fast and very big and in a game last season against Blinn JC in Davis had 283 yards and 4 touchdowns. Just, watch the video. He's the best athlete on the field and it's not really even close. Tyler JC, Davis' squad, is the team in black and yellow.
 
Out of high school Davis, a four star recruit, ran a 4.4 40 and enrolled at Texas A&M. Shortly into his tenure in College Station, Davis decided it was perhaps best if he pursue other opportunities elsewhere and after a brief sojourn at Tyler JC, we find him strolling the practice fields of SMU. Much like Burcham, there is relatively little to say about Davis, other than what he did in high school. But, if you feel like drooling or maybe the JC highlights weren't enough, check out his former ESPN recruiting page. The young man had some offers and impressed a fair amount of people.
***
June Jones has claimed that it is Burcham job to lose, which might be true. Jones has also claimed, recently to the Dallas Morning News that  "It’s going to be fun to watch competition develop and competition makes everybody better." Yes, it probably is pretty fun to be a football and wield a not insignificant amount of power over the lives of two young men. It is also probably pretty fun to watch people openly compete for your favor and attention. I doubt anything about this competition is very fun for Burcham or Davis.
If I were a betting man I would place my money on a two quarterback system. Yes, the old adage of "if you have two quarterbacks you really have zero," remains applicable in this situation, but, the way it shakes out lends itself wonderfully to both of these young men seeing the field. Burcham is, reportedly a better drop-back passer and a more accurate thrower, so it would make sense if he were making field decisions. Conversely Davis' talent is so big and so bright and his skill set so broad that it would equally foolish to keep him languishing on the sidelines.
June Jones has proven his talent with quarterbacks in the past and it is safe to assume that both young men will see their talents utilized to the best possible result for SMU.