Swoopes, Raulerson must step up for Texas

Nick Castillo

The absolute worst case scenario for the Longhorns this season has already happened. Junior quarterback David Ash, yet again, is struggling with concussion symptoms.

So, as Texas head coach Charlie Strong would say, “Next man up.”

QB Tyrone Swoopes

That means Tyrone Swoopes, the 6-foot-4-inch, 243-pound sophomore from Whitewright, is now the Longhorns’ starting quarterback. Naturally, Swoopes has to step up. Injuries and struggles at the quarterback position have plagued Texas since Colt McCoy went down in the 2010 National Championship Game. Swoopes doesn’t need to be McCoy, but he’ll have to be better than he’s been in the few chances he’s had thus far.

“He does not need to put an ‘S’ on [his] chest and a cape on his back and try to do it all by himself,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. “It won’t work that way.”

If Swoopes steps up, he may hear chants of “SWOOOOPES.” If he struggles, he will hear “BOOOO” instead.

C Jake Raulerson

The other part of Texas’ injury nightmare last week was the loss of 40-game starter and senior center Dominic Espinosa. Espinosa suffered an ankle fracture, which will likely sideline him for the rest of the season. The torch has now been passed to redshirt freshman Jake Raulerson.

Raulerson, a native of Celina, has big shoes to fill as the center. He will be responsible for keeping the offense organized and calling out reads — an even more difficult task, given the difficulties the line had at times against North Texas.

But the coaching staff believes Raulerson can get the job done.

“They know what they’ve lost in [Dominic],” Watson said. “[Raulerson] has taken a great sense of responsibility, making sure everybody is on the same page. They’re communicating together, [and] they’re in the film room together. [Raulerson] has captained a lot of that stuff. It’s impressive seeing those guys work together.”

Offensive Tackles

The offensive line suffered major losses after week one. Losing Espinosa was a tough pill to swallow, but even worse was the news that tackles Desmond Harrison, who was expected to return to action after being suspended prior to the season, and Kennedy Estelle were suspended for the game against BYU after violating team rules.

The offensive tackles will have to step up as a unit. Marcus Hutchins played left tackle last week but offensive line coach Joe Wickline may choose to rotate guys in. Whoever is lined up on the outside has a tough task in front of them and has to be ready to step up.