Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes declared Texas to be college football playoff material Monday, despite already losing two games this season.
This came as a bold statement by the sophomore quarterback from Whitewright, Texas, whose confidence has been questioned since he took his first steps on campus. While it’s an almost impossible feat for the Longhorns to make an appearance in college football’s first final four, Texas has a puncher’s chance at running the table for a Big 12 Championship.
If the Longhorns want to compete for a Big 12 title, they will have to find the mentality they had last season when they started off the year in the same position after dropping two of their first three games. Much like Texas rallying behind its then-second-string quarterback Case McCoy, it will have to put its faith in Swoopes.
“[Swoopes] realizes this is his offense,” Texas head coach Charlie Strong said. “His confidence is just building each and every day, and that’s what you like out of him. … The thing he’s doing now is becoming a student of the game which he didn’t before.”
The Longhorns also need their seniors to step up and play the best football of their collegiate careers.
“I told the seniors it’s all about their leadership,” Strong said. “Their senior year, you like to see them go play their best football, and some of our seniors aren’t playing their best football. It’s not going to change until we start developing pride and we have pride within ourselves and pride within the team.”
While playoffs may be out of the question, Swoopes said that the bare minimum at Texas is becoming bowl-eligible. The road to bowl eligibility begins this weekend when the Longhorns start a tough eight-game stretch against Big 12 opponents with a match against lowly Kansas.
Texas should escape Lawrence, Kansas, with a .500 record before facing its two toughest opponents — No. 7 Baylor on Oct. 4 and No. 4 Oklahoma on Oct. 11.
If the Longhorns want any chance at contending for a Big 12 Championship, they’ll have to find a way to beat the Bears and Sooners.
The only way Texas can beat those teams is if its defense performs at an elite level — something that hasn’t been seen since Will Muschamp was defensive coordinator. Playing elite defense against Baylor will be challenging, as the Bears rank first in total offense, third in the nation in passing offense and 28th in rushing offense.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Longhorns will also have to find a way to score points at will as the Bears and Sooners feature
But, if the Longhorns somehow upset the No. 7 and No. 4 teams in the nation, they’ll be in prime position to run the table in the Big 12.
“It’s game by game,” Strong said. “I don’t look down the road. I just say let’s take it one at a time.”