Texas finds success with two-quarterback system

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Junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes no longer holds the starting quarterback job, but he remains a vital part of the offense. Swoopes had both a passing and rushing touchdown against Oklahoma on Saturday.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

There’s never been a question about the relationship between redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard and junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. Each is the other’s biggest fan — even when they compete for playing time.

“Both of those guys are each other’s best ally, best friend,” quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson said. “They help each other out. They push each other. They love competing with one another. When somebody makes a big play, the first guy down there is whoever was out.”

Heard and Swoopes don’t just have a good rapport in the locker room — the two quarterbacks compliment each other on the field, too. Heard emerged as the team’s primary field general after displaying mature decision-making and big-play ability. Swoopes found a role picking up short yardage in a personally tailored “jumbo package.”

Now, the two-quarterback offense is paying off. The duo produced all five of Texas’ offensive touchdowns in the last three games, three of which came from Swoopes’ short-yardage package. As the two quarterbacks keep finding success, their confidence continues to rise.

“Both of those guys — they play with some confidence,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “[Watson] has done a great job of giving them confidence and building them up.”

The system’s success thrives from the two quarterbacks’ varying styles and physical tools. A speedster at six-foot-two-inches, 195 pounds, Heard is a dual-threat quarterback. He’s made a monumental difference for Texas’ offense with his ability to make something out of nothing when plays break down. He also consistently puts balls on target as a pocket passer.

Swoopes, on the other hand, gives the Longhorns power and versatility. With a six-foot-four-inches, 244-pound frame, he’s difficult to bring down in short yardage. Yet he can still throw when defenses sell out on his running ability. The Sooners fell victim to the latter in their 24-17 loss to Texas on Saturday.

“You know, no, [we didn’t expect Swoopes’ passing touchdown],” Heard said. “But we kept on running that same package with Swoopes, and we know eventually that after the second time that they were going to load that box. We were just ready for it. It happened, and it turned out great.”

Swoopes’ best contributions have come after losing the starting job to Heard earlier this season. He stayed ready despite his demotion and knows the Longhorns can call his number at any moment.

“I was excited,” Swoopes said. “It was just another chance to get on the field and help the team out.”

Each quarterback will aim to continue boosting the team in his respective role going forward. Strong said any quarterback must win over the locker room to see success this season. Now, it’s safe to say that the team has embraced the two-quarterback system.

“Both [are] great guys, both [are] talented guys and both [are] guys that can help this team,” senior running back Johnathan Gray said. “Hopefully, we can utilize both of them.”