It must be difficult to prepare for a game everyone expects you to lose, but this is the daunting task handed to Tyrone Swoopes, the sophomore quarterback who is preparing for his second career start.
Many things went wrong in BYU’s route of the Longhorns last week, but one would be hard-pressed to place any blame on the man behind center.
Despite the offense scoring an anemic seven points, Swoopes completed 20 of 31 passes for 176 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception for a respectable 27.5 QB rating.
Granted, there’s nothing revelatory about those stats, but they are hardly the stats of a quarterback out of his element.
"The thing (Swoopes) did was he executed the offense and he managed it very well," UT coach Charlie Strong said. "We all were just wondering how it was going to go, and I think it ended up going very well."
Once the kid with the legs of Vince Young, the arm of Chris Simms, and a cool name to boot, Swoopes was considered the future of Texas football.
Now, the irony of the can’t-miss recruit from Whitewright, who so many clamored for Mack Brown to start last year, is the fact that so many are clamoring for another can’t-miss recruit to start over our current can’t-miss recruit.
Despite this, there’s little reason to think Swoopes needs to keep looking over his shoulder, fearing true-freshman Jerrod Heard will take the field, if things go south against No. 12 UCLA.
“Tyrone is our quarterback, and he’s going to be our quarterback, and we’re just going to go with him,” Strong said.
Whitewright is a small 2A school located northeast of Dallas, making this week’s game at AT&T Stadium a homecoming, of sorts. Considering Swoopes’ offensive line at Whitewright was smaller than him, he got used to running and improvising as a means to survive – Swoopes ran for over 5,000 yards while at Whitewright.
The similarities to last week’s Longhorns’ front line are uncanny – the Longhorns’ makeshift offensive line didn’t provide Swoopes much protection, as the quarterback was sacked six times.
But such unfortunate circumstances remain in Swoopes’ wheelhouse.
"I'd say (my biggest strength is) just being able to make a play when it seems like there's no play to be made," Swoopes said.
Many wonder what new tricks, if any, the Longhorns’ offensive play caller Shawn Watson may have up his sleeve, and if he’ll let Swoopes throw the ball to deeper routes.
Watson explained that every route had a receiver down field, but BYU’s pesky defense rarely left those players open. He went on to praise Swoopes for remaining patient, taking care of the ball, and making the right decisions.
"Tyrone has really upped his ante," Watson said Tuesday. "He feels like he's the quarterback. That's a cool thing to see."
While the sky was falling last Saturday at Darrell K. Royal stadium, one man was far too focused on the game to take notice.
“I think I did pretty well being my first start and all,” Swoopes said. “This Saturday, I will be more confident and ready to go.”
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