Call it Swoopes’ last stand.
I enjoyed Ian Boyd’s interesting Inside Texas ideals on how to unlock Tyrone Swoopes as a winning QB at Texas. I hope he is correct if the Longhorns end up having to go with him in 2015. However, I don’t believe that he can ever breakthrough against a top team, and here are the reasons for that:
1. Tyrone Swoopes is not a physical leader – He won’t use his size to make first downs. When I watched Ohio State’s third string QB win a National Championship, I was most impressed by his tough running style, using his size to make key first downs. When Swoopes runs, he either ducks down or runs out of bounds. I am not sure you can coach him out of it. There is no doubt Swoopes has a big-time arm but so far he has proven erratic on short throws and underneath routes. In big games, first downs are the blood in the body of an offense. To think of Swoopes as a zone-read threat is not practical. The youngster is slow with his decisions and is not in the least quick on his feet.
For Texas to try the spread zone read, their only hope is Jerrod Heard, who won a state championship at Denton Guyer running the zone read offense.
Swoopes was 1-9 in high school as a senior, and I am not sure he has improved. Why UT ever recruited a prep QB with such a record is beyond me.
The problem with all this “Art Briles: Baylor-type offense” is that Shawn Watson has no idea how this stuff works. It is obvious he can take a pro-style QB to the top as he did with Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville but I also saw Bridgewater run for first downs and get hit as he moved the chains. Watson needs to get out the TCU-Texas game film and watch Swoopes run out of bounds, when some toughness on his part would have kept the Longhorn offense on the field.
2. Tyrone Swoopes is not a mental leader. Over and over Swoopes couldn’t read the sideline play signals in time to get to the Horns huddle to challenge his teammates. Of course the delay of game penalties made the Longhorn offense a joke and an embarrassment to former players like myself. In three years as a starter at Texas and two years as an assistant, I never saw Darrell Royal’s offense have a delay of game penalty. Period. It happened on the second play of the Texas Bowl in Houston and that goes right back on Watson and Swoopes. There is no doubt that Tyrone Swoopes is a good young man, but from what I have heard and seen in his interviews, mixed with his on-field performances, I don’t believe he has the leadership qualities to be a starting quarterback at Texas.
Also, I am not sure the no tight end formations will produce an effective running game. By narrating the front offensive alignment you allow the defense to put lots of pressure from the outside. Perhaps I am too old school but with the offensive lineman that have been recruited at Texas, perhaps coach Wickline can generate a ground attack that can bring the Longhorns back to being a threat on offense besides the zone read offense.
As of this offseason in the Big 12, only three schools have quarterbacks that I have seen and that I believe are winners – TCU, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State. The rest of the league is in the same boat as the Longhorns. TCU is in a class by themselves with a possible Heisman candidate, Trevone Boykin. Last year, as a freshman, Tech’s quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, had Baylor on the ropes in a shootout at AT&T Stadium. Oklahoma State’s new quarterback, Mason Rudolph, beat Oklahoma in Norman and won its bowl game.
The best hope for Texas is that Spring practice will bring Jerrod Heard to the front and coach Wickline can generate a tough running game utilizing the abilities of Johnathan Gray. There are holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball but if nothing else the Longhorn defensive staff proved that they know how to train, setup, and work during a football game.
Pat Culpepper played for The University of Texas from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor, and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.