By Dennis Washington
PASADENA, CA (WBRC) - Texas backup quarterback Garrett Gilbert got a rare opportunity Thursday night -- a chance to play in the national championship game -- as a freshman.
Gilbert came into the game after star senior quarterback Colt McCoy was hurt during a play mid-way through the first quarter. Gilbert played the rest of the game.
"We told Garrett (at halftime) to just keep playing," head coach Mack Brown said after the game. "You're a good player, it's a hard learning curve, learn fast, and at one point I thought he was going to come back and win the game.
Gilbert struggled in the first half against the Alabama defense, but adjustments at halftime helped him lead the Longhorns down the field twice for touchdowns, closing the halftime deficit to 24-21 in the fourth quarter.
Brown said Gilbert did a great job of recomposing himself at halftime.
"He's such a smart young man," Brown said. "He's a four-point student, and I think he won all but one game in high school and won two State Championships, and we think he has a chance to be a really special player."
Brown said he was impressed with Gilbert's performance.
"Here's a guy standing there on the sidelines cold as can be, and all of a sudden in the National Championship game," Brown said. "It's like, okay, son, you've got it. I can't even imagine. It's a credit to him, the kids around him and Coach Davis for putting him in a position where he came back and actually had a chance to win the game."
Gilbert completed 15 of his 40 pass attempts for 186 yards and two touchdowns, but his four interceptions were costly.
"Losing is tough," Brown said. "We're proud to be in the National Championship game and still equally as hard to lose it."
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