Skepticism warranted at quarterback, despite Buechele’s eye-opening performance

Nick Castillo

Shane Buechele had an eye-opening performance at Saturday’s Orange-White Spring Game.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 181-pound early enrollee quarterback from Arlington, who should be preparing for his senior prom and not dropping dimes at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, completed 22-of-41 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns Saturday

“[Buechele] can tell you he impressed a lot of people,” sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson said. 

It’s hard to deny that Buechele’s performance at Saturday’s spring game was impressive, but it’s time to pump the brakes. One shining performance in a glorified scrimmage shouldn’t determine Texas’ starting quarterback.

Buechele’s performance has appeared to set him ahead of his fellow quarterback teammates — senior Tyrone Swoopes and redshirt sophomore Jerrod Heard.

Swoopes struggled Saturday as he threw two interceptions and completed only 4-of-16 passes. Heard didn’t play on Saturday because of a shoulder injury that has kept him out for the majority of spring camp.

But a snap judgment based on the spring game would deny the 14 practices it took to get to Saturday’s over-hyped game. Even head coach Charlie Strong realizes the spring game won’t determine a starter.

“[Buechele] had a really good day,” Strong said. “[Swoopes] has had his days. He just didn’t do that today. At practice, you see it happening. … I just know this. We’re going to have a quarterback that’s going to be very effective and be able to move this ball up and down the field for us. [Heard] has been out, but once you get him back, we’ll be able to settle on a guy.”

The Longhorns shouldn’t settle for a quarterback, though, especially not based on Saturday’s results. Especially not after a 5–7 2015 season — their third losing season in six years. 

Texas must be deliberate in its decision. After an 11–14 record during his first two seasons at Texas, Strong’s job depends on it.

But if it is Buechele, Strong is confident he could get the job done.

“I would be comfortable if he wins the job,” Strong said. “Even though he is a freshman, you have enough guys around him now. Whoever walks out there at that position, you’ve got two big running backs you can turn around and hand that ball to, so you take the pressure off the quarterback. You’ve got wide receivers that can win outside.” 

Even Buechele’s teammates are confident in him. “If you can play, you can play,” Jefferson said.

But skepticism in Buechele is warranted. Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, whose up-tempo approach Strong brought in to save his offense, said there’s still a long way to go before a starter is determined. “As much as I love to go fast, I want this thing to be right," Gilbert said.

"We’ll have a lot of work to do,” Gilbert said. “By no means did anyone play perfect.”