In times like these, Austinites' only logical choice is to hand themselves over to foolishness.
This is the state of Texas football.
Putting faith in statistics (not to mention, a microscopic, perhaps deceiving sample size) is setting one's self up to be made a fool, and yet, those in burnt orange can't help themselves. It's hard to blame them.
Faith in numbers is one thing. They don't tell the whole story, and, sometimes, they weave a completely different tale. But faith in spring-game statistics? When defensive strategies most often trend toward the palest shade of beige and the defensive on-field roster is interspersed with backups and inexperience?
Shane Buechele is a true freshman who should be sitting in an Arlington, Texas, classroom, fighting a losing battle with senioritis. Instead, he showed up in Austin early and injected himself into a three-man battle to be Texas' quarterback in its new power spread offense coordinated by Sterlin Gilbert, a 37-year-old sapling snapped from the Art Briles coaching tree.
On Saturday, he and Buechele provided Charlie Strong with his most precious resource: hope. Strong entering Year 3 after two disappointing, losing seasons with the Longhorns. Thus far, he's shown little reason to believe a below-average offense can morph into one that turns Texas' hunts for bowl games in November into hunts for Big 12 titles.
With last year's starter, Jerrod Heard, sidelined for much of spring with a shoulder injury, Buechele got 64 snaps in a weather-shortened spring game. He turned them into 299 yards and two touchdowns on 22-of-41 passing.
Tuesday, I asked Strong what he'd say to fans hoping to see Buechele on the field next fall, and see him possibly start.
"They'll get the chance to see Shane," Strong said. "I just don't know how early."
Denigrate the numbers however you must, but consider this: Texas threw for more than 299 yards three times in its 27 Big 12 games over the last three seasons.
The crystal ball showed promise for Texas' transition from Colt McCoy in 2009 to Garrett Gilbert in 2010, with more dream seasons ahead with a five-star golden boy who defied common sense and showed flashes of brilliance to keep Texas competitive in a national title game loss to Alabama. Instead, Gilbert's disappointing 2010 ushered in a nightmare 5-7 season that meant a staff reboot and ultimately cost Mack Brown his job.
Texas fans have been camped outside Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium since, adorned in sackcloth and ashes to mourn the loss of a once-competent offense and perform rain dances in hopes of reviving the university's cash cow.
David Ash was above average, but injuries assured he wasn't the next chosen one. Case McCoy earned a special place in Texas fans' hearts for sending Texas A&M to the SEC in style, but his lack of physical tools never earned him golden boy status.
Jerrod Heard was The Next Great Texas Quarterback last season after breaking Vince Young's single-game total offense record in a heartbreaking loss to Cal, but the rest of the season showcased Heard's shortcomings as a pure passer and Cal's defensive shortcomings. If defending is an art, the Golden Bears were still finger painting when they played Texas and barely advanced to stick figures by season's end.
Tyrone Swoopes was pushed into action too early, but his gargantuan frame and monstrous arm strength don't mask his consistent lack of accuracy for long. Displeased murmurs from fans about his early lead in this spring's quarterback race grew to full-throated groans when he completed just 4 of 16 attempts with a pair of interceptions and no touchdowns in Saturday's scrimmage.
Texas fans have seen Swoopes overthrow an open man downfield by 10 yards. They've seen Heard miraculously escape a sure sack only put a ball to an open receiver in the dirt. They've never seen Buechele throw an interception that reminds them why starting a true freshman quarterback is almost always a painful exercise.
Ever since Robert Griffin III began terrorizing Big 12 defenses, the biggest criticism of Briles' offense is it made life too easy on quarterbacks, stunting their growth at the next level and making NFL evaluations almost impossible.
The Longhorns would gladly welcome that change.
In that same span, the most common criticism of Texas' offense is, simply, that it has been awful. Since Colt McCoy's exit from the program, the Longhorns haven't finished in the top half of the Big 12 in yards per play. (Worth noting: Texas was just fifth among 12 teams in each of his final two seasons.)
Familiarity breeds contempt, and with only a spring game and a few open practices to judge him, Buechele has snagged a spot as the new fan favorite, the new reason to believe Texas' return to glory days are just around the corner.
For now, he's the hot-shot FCS quarterback entering the NFL draft. He's the small-school guard or the European big man entering the NBA draft. Public opinion is swayed by the highlights and not a season-long exhibit that gave millions a microphone to broadcast his weaknesses.
He also muddies a quarterback race in Austin.
Strong only needs to take a morning jog over to College Station to find out how easily a fan-favorite freshman quarterback can derail a program's progress. Ironically, that's exactly what Texas needs, for now.
"At one time, you felt like you didn't have anybody," Strong said. "Now, I feel like we have three."
Longhorns are bound to roll their eyes at that idea. It's hard to believe in Heard or Swoopes taking to the new offense like Trevone Boykin took to the Air Raid at TCU, turning a disastrous quarterback situation into one headlined by a Heisman contender.
It's easier to believe Buechele, even if he only shows flashes in his first fall on campus, is the quarterback of the future in Austin.
Strong's two proudest moments as a Longhorn were beating Oklahoma and Baylor as massive underdogs. Texas fans, though, didn't hire Strong to make the program's trip to Waco in the season finale take on the feeling of a bowl game. Belief in the unseen and faith in the promise of a brighter future is the fastest-moving item on Strong's shelf these days.
Sales on a dominant defense are at an all-time low after giving up the most yards in school history in 2015. Even Strong's calling card, the Five Core Values, saw their stock plummet this offseason. Fair or not, that's what happens within a fan base when its straight-lined fearless leader is named in a divorce settlement involving one of Louisville's most prominent university donors. (Strong avoided being deposed and his phone records being subpoenaed when the divorce was settled.)
All that's left to sell is the hope that better days are ahead. Nothing is better suited to do that than the marriage of Gilbert's offense to Buechele's arm.
Saturday's spring game assured the program will be inundated with pre-orders on that promise.
Come fall, they'll have to deliver.