It was too good to be true.
In mid-November, sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes trotted off the field at Boone Pickens Stadium looking as though he had finally cemented himself as the Longhorns’ quarterback for the foreseeable future.
Swoopes, who has been inconsistent all season, appeared to find his stride in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He had led Texas to its third consecutive win in the best performance of his career, throwing for more than 300 yards and two scores and avoiding the kind of mistakes that had plagued him in the first two months of the season.
Just a couple weeks later, it seems like Swoopes may have had his final start at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Thanksgiving Day.
The 6-foot-4, 243-pound gunslinger turned the ball over five times against TCU and never gave his offense a chance to get in rhythm.
After the game, the coaching staff didn’t exactly give him a vote of confidence as the program’s quarterback of the future.
“Well, you always have to recruit, and you have to recruit for every position,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “You look at Tyrone, he has some games where it’s been up and down for him. Tonight wasn’t his night.”
As Strong seeks to protect freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard’s redshirt, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Swoopes wouldn’t start in Texas’ upcoming bowl game. But beyond that, it’s looking more and more like the Longhorns’ future plans do not include Swoopes.
The staff clearly feels the lack of competition behind Swoopes is detrimental to the team’s success, as he has no threat to overtake him on game day or push him in practice.
Shawn Watson, quarterback coach and assistant head coach for offense, agrees with Strong and said his most successful signal callers, including current Minnesota Viking player Teddy Bridgewater, were at their finest with a couple of guys breathing down their necks.
“[Swoopes] has got to have those people,” Watson said. “Every great quarterback situation I’ve been a part of is because we had four guys in that classroom competing hard for the job.”
It appears as though Swoopes’ inconsistency has finally worn down the staff’s trust in him. His ability to throw the deep ball and run in the open field gives reason to believe he could some day be great. But his tendency to make major mistakes — and lots of them — indicates he may never be consistent enough to have success at the college level.
There is a glimmer of hope, however. Heard will be available next season; Zach Gentry, one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation, will arrive this offseason; and Strong’s staff is considering adding a junior college transfer as well.
If all that happens, Texas might have the quarterback competition it desperately needs. But is such a scenario too good to be true?