Texas’ spring game fails to shed new light on quarterback question

Aaron Torres

Coca-Cola versus Pepsi. Chocolate versus vanilla. And now: Swoopes versus Heard. 

Whether junior Tyrone Swoopes or redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard should start at quarterback for Texas is a polarizing question. 

Both quarterbacks finished Saturday’s Orange-White scrimmage with similar stats — leaving unsettled the all-important question of who should start come fall. By the end of the game, it appeared both Swoopes and Heard were in the same positions they had when spring practice started.

“Ty is still our No. 1 guy,” head coach Charlie Strong said.

The Texas team (Orange) beat the Horns team (White), 27–16, Saturday to conclude Texas’ spring practice. During the first half of play, Swoopes quarterbacked the Orange team, which consisted of the first-team offense and second-team defense, and Heard quarterbacked the White team, which consisted of the second-team offense and first-team defense.

“I feel good about [the quarterback competition],” said Swoopes, who finished 17-for-31 with 159 yards and one rushing touchdown.

Heard put up similar numbers, going 20-for-29 with 177 yards, one interception and a rushing touchdown.

“I really tried to distribute the ball to the good playmakers,” Heard said. “This offense is really built for that, so I really try to put the ball in those guys’ hands.”

Heading into Saturday’s scrimmage, Texas aimed to display its new fast-paced offense, where players would sprint to the line of scrimmage after a play was over to get another play started as soon as possible. But the offensive pace was not as consistent as Strong hoped.

“You want to see the pace be a little quicker,” Strong said. “Just looking to the sideline trying to get [the signals], it’ll be quicker because that’s what you like to see — just a quicker pace, more up tempo.” 

While the offense is new for the Longhorns, both quarterbacks are familiar with the tempo. Toward the end of Heard’s high school career, Guyer High School quickened its offensive pace. Swoopes ran the same type of offense at Whitewright High School. 

“I’m really excited about [the new offense],” Swoopes said. “It’s pretty much what we’ve all done in high school. We’re all used to the up-tempo, no-huddle kind of the thing, so it’s just kind of getting us back to our ways.”

Other aspects of the Texas offense shined. Sophomore running back D’Onta Foreman showed particular strength, scoring one touchdown and racking up 84 yards on 12 rushes.

“It’s always fun when you watch big D’Onta run behind his pads. … He’s a guy that can run behind his pads and move people out of the way,” Strong said.

With the end of spring football, the next time the Longhorns take the field will be Sept. 5 against Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Strong will hope to have his team and, most importantly, a starting quarterback ready in time.