Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes struggled against TCU on Thursday. Although he rushed for a team-high 61 yards, Swoopes threw four interceptions to the Horned Frogs.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

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?

Given all the changes new head coach Charlie Strong has made since arriving in Austin, not much remains from the Mack Brown-era at Texas.

However, one thing that has remained constant despite all the changes is Texas’ lackluster fan base.

In the last few years of Brown’s tenure, Texas became notorious in the Big 12 for its poor fan support. Despite the program’s “come early, be loud, stay late, wear orange,” tagline, students were known to arrive late and, unless a game came down to the wire, leave early.

But, with a new head coach and a fresh attitude within the program, the Longhorn faithfuls were expected to be out in full force to usher in the new era.

However, just a day ahead of its third game of the season at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Texas has yet to sell out a home game. In fact, thousands of tickets are still available for tomorrow’s game against No. 7 Baylor.

For the Longhorns to return to national prominence, they need more from their fan base.

Among the current top-15 teams in the AP poll, the majority of them are supported by fans that rank among the best in the country. Having a favorable atmosphere at home games is perhaps a bigger advantage in college football than any other sport.

While it’s obvious that fan support will typically increase in response to a team’s production, Texas would benefit drastically from the opposite. If Longhorn fans show up in greater numbers, they may be surprised by how much the on-field product improves.

A loud stadium creates an immense home field advantage for any team. Opponents are forced to overcome the noise level to effectively communicate and are usually intimidated by the atmosphere. The home team, on the other hand, can feed off the excitement and use crowd response to build momentum.

Over the past few seasons, however, Texas simply hasn’t experienced such an advantage. Instead, fans of visiting teams have come into Austin and, at times, been louder than the home crowd. Ole Miss fans chanting “S-E-C” after the Rebels’ victory over Texas last season and BYU faithfuls screaming as junior quarterback Taysom Hill ran all over the Longhorns this year are a couple of obvious examples.

It’s gotten so bad that in 2012, former Longhorn safety Kenny Vaccaro went as far as to say that playing on the 40 Acres may not be an advantage at all for Texas.

“I like, without a doubt, playing on the road better than playing at home,” Vaccaro said. “It’s way louder and gets me way [more excited]. No offense to our fans, but [Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium] is not loud.”

A week after that statement, against a top-10 West Virginia team, Longhorn fans produced one of the loudest home games of Brown’s tenure in Austin.

Strong and his players have yet to publicly state similar disappointment in this year’s fan support, but, as poor attendance numbers continue to mount, so will the losses.

About $20,000 in concession sales were unaccounted for after the Aug. 30 football game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

According to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey, two nonprofit groups arrived to sell concessions during the game against the University of North Texas but left at the end of the day without submitting their sales.

Sam Wells, director of media relations for Sodexo, the company in charge of the stadium’s concession sales, said they follow certain procedures for coordinating with nonprofit groups. 

“There’s usually a supervisor who’s responsible for overseeing nonprofit sales groups and making sure sales are turned in at the end of the day,” Wells said. 

Posey said the theft is still under investigation and did not provide any information on whether UTPD will take precautions to prevent a similar situation from occurring at future games. 

According to Wells, the stadium earns about $3 million per year in concession sales from its combined sports.

Wells said a range of nonprofit organizations, including church groups and marching bands, staffed concession stands last year and contributed $500,000 to the total earnings. 

Girl Scouts concessions coordinator Stacy Knight, who oversees concession sales for the Girl Scouts of Central Texas, said the money her troops earn from selling concessions at University football events is turned directly into a specific room during and after games.

“There’s a cash room guarded by a security guard at all times, and that’s where we turn sales in after games,” Knight said. 

Nonprofit groups who help with sales usually take home about 10 percent of their profits, while the rest goes to the University, according to Knight.

Knight’s troops set up four stands inside the stadium and typically earn between $1,500 and $2,000 per game.

Members of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity shotgun beers while tailgating before the UT versus New Mexico football game on Aug. 31, 2013.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

With tailgates at UT football games currently spread across various parking lots around Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, leaders from one student organization have proposed a single student tailgate to unite students.

Ryan Shingledecker, former Students for Texas Athletics president and current president Preston Moore are in the process of working with University officials to create a University-sponsored student tailgate. Shingledecker, a international relations and global studies senior, said the tailgate is still only an idea at this point, but once established, the tailgate would be a single area for all students to go to before football games.

Moore, who is a finance, business honors and Plan II senior, said the tailgate would be similar to those held by other universities that have tailgates located on campus for students and alumni, with various student organizations involved.

“The goal of it is to unify the student body and to have the tradition of being able to go as a student of an organization or not of an organization,” Moore said. “Anybody could come and tailgate all together in one spot.”

Shingledecker said the concept of a student tailgate came to him while running for Student Government president in 2013. According to Shingledecker, during his campaign, many students said they would like to see a tailgate on campus.

Shingledecker, who ultimately lost the SG election, joined Students for Texas Athletics and developed a proposal with Moore, outlining their ideal student tailgate. The proposal was presented to UT Athletics on April 28 and is currently under review.

“We’re in the process of meeting with people, and that’s one of those things where our hopes might not be able to come to fruition because we put everything we would ever want,” Shingledecker said.

The group’s ideal location for the tailgate is the East Mall.

“We think it would be cool to have tailgating on the East Mall, from the Tower all the way down to the stadium,” Shingledecker said. “The hope in that is that we have the Tower in the background leading up to the stadium.”

Gerald Harkins, associate vice president of Campus Safety & Security, said this location is a possibility, but factors such as pedestrian traffic, the loading and unloading of equipment and the maintenance of facilities, among others, must be considered before a decision is made.

Another factor being considered is the consumption of alcohol by those at the tailgate.

“We want students to have fun, but we also know there are liabilities and risks involved, too,” Moore said.

Harkins said, if alcohol is sold, a policy must be implemented to keep attendees and those passing through safe.

“If you make the assumption that there is going to be alcohol there, which I was told there would be — so people over 21 are going to be drinking — you’ve got to do ID cards or wristbands,” Harkins said.

SG President Kori Rady said he is also interested in establishing a student tailgate and has met with members of the athletics department as potential funders, but, with all the changing parts, no decisions have yet been made.

“Athletics is extremely busy throughout the season and prior to the season,” Rady said. “Sometimes, it is really difficult in certain situations to implement such a large-scale event.”

Rady said he hopes to at least set the foundation for a student tailgate this year.

Photo Credit: Cody Bubenik | Daily Texan Staff

Gone are the days of seeing head coach Mack Brown standing on the sidelines of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in his usual pose — with his hands on his knees, nervously awaiting Texas’ next play. 

There is a new regime in town, led by head coach Charlie Strong, who is more likely to be found pacing the sidelines, pumping his fist or even chest bumping his players as they come off the field.

Strong assembled a staff of his own too, filled with some of the best coaches from all over the country. Tight ends coach Bruce Chambers, entering his 17th season at Texas, is the only holdover from Brown’s squad. Here is a quick look at the new team.

Charlie Strong — HC

From what’s been seen so far, the new boss is the polar opposite of Brown. Strong takes a very hands-on approach, often running drills with his players and trying to keep up with them in the weight room. He’s also demonstrated a penchant for discipline, having already removed seven players from the program since he was hired and suspending three more. His track record is impressive, and there has been plenty of talk about what he is capable of, but none of that will matter if he can’t win in Austin. He’ll get his first chance to prove himself this weekend.

Shawn Watson — Asst. HC, QB

Watson is one of several coaches Strong brought with him from Louisville. He served as Strong’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Cardinals, working with current Minnesota Viking quarterback Teddy Bridgewater over the past few seasons. Watson will be tasked with play-calling duties this season and will also be responsible for developing Texas’ young quarterbacks, sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and true freshman Jerrod Heard. Given David Ash’s injury issues, the young guns may see the field sooner than expected.

Joe Wickline — OC, OL

Wickline was likely Strong’s most high-profile hire, as he snatched him away from conference foe Oklahoma State. With the Cowboys, Wickline developed a reputation as one of the top offensive line coaches in the nation, often turning unproven high school talent into NFL stars. He’ll have his work cut out for him this season with a relatively inexperienced group of linemen, but he will be able to rely on four-year starter center Dominic Espinosa as the leader of the group.

Tommie Robinson — RB

Robinson comes to Texas from USC, having served as the Trojans’ running backs coach and passing game coordinator last season. Robinson has a wealth of experience working with running backs, having coached the position at five different universities and in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals. He inherits Texas’ strongest position group, with junior Johnathan Gray and senior Malcolm Brown making up one of the best running back combinations in the country.

Les Koenning — WR

A former Longhorn himself, Koenning comes to Texas with a great understanding of the pressure that comes with wearing a burnt orange uniform. He has coached twelve different teams over the course of his 33-year coaching career. Koenning has the difficult task of getting the most out of his inexperienced receivers immediately. The departure of Mike Davis and dismissals of Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander have left the Longhorns very thin at the receiver position. If Koenning isn’t able to quickly fill those holes, the Texas passing game will struggle mightily.

Vance Bedford — DC, Secondary

Bedford is a former Longhorn defensive back and another coach that Strong brought from Louisville. He is perhaps best known for being the defensive backs coach at Michigan in 1997 when they won the national championship, and Wolverine defensive back Charles Woodson became the first and only primarily defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy. Bedford takes over a defense that returns eight players and a secondary that includes star defensive back Quandre Diggs. The talent is there; it’s just a question of what he can do with it.

Chris Vaughn — DB, ST

One of the younger coaches on staff, Vaughn comes to Texas from Memphis, but spent the majority of his coaching career at Arkansas. Vaughn drastically improved the Tigers’ secondary while at Memphis last season, moving their pass defense up 42 spots in the national rankings. He will also be tasked with coaching up Texas’ rookie kickers and improving the Longhorns’ return game.

Chris Rumph — DL, Asst. HC for Defense

Rumph is another young coach on staff, but has plenty of valuable experience, having won two championships as the defensive line coach at Alabama over the past three seasons. Rumph played an important role in developing the Crimson Tide defense into one of the best in the country and will be tasked with getting the most out of senior Cedric Reed, junior Malcom Brown and the rest of Texas’ talented defensive linemen this year.

Brian Jean-Mary — LB, Recruiting

Jean-Mary followed Strong to Texas from Louisville, where he became known for transforming an underwhelming group of linebackers. The linebacking corps at Texas has shown flashes of brilliance over the past few seasons, but clearly has plenty of improving to do. Jean-Mary will look to get his guys up to speed in a hurry, as strong linebacker play could make the Longhorn front seven the best in the league in 2014. He is also responsible for heading up Texas’ recruiting efforts.

Pat Moorer — Strength & Conditioning

Certainly the most intimidating man on Strong’s staff, Moorer has already developed a reputation as a fan favorite in Austin. He formerly served as Emmitt Smith’s personal trainer and has long been known for his intense workout regimen. So far, Moorer has made headlines for his famous “pit” workouts, used as punishment for players who violate team rules or are unable to practice due to minor injury.

Public relations senior Cody Levy (left) and finance junior Kyle Jenkins, members of UT's bass fishing team, weigh their catch.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

UT’s fastest growing sport doesn’t compete at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium or on the court at the Frank Erwin Center. In fact, this sport doesn’t even take place on the 40 Acres. It happens on Lake Austin — with the help of a rod and reel.

The Texas bass fishing team has more than doubled in size since its founding in 2008. After starting with just seven active members and a few sponsors, the team now has 15 fishermen and eight sponsors.

“The Texas bass team was pretty small when I joined,” said Cody Levy, public relations senior and team president. “I became president of the team with a goal of fishing more tournaments, gaining more members and securing more sponsorships to help with expenses. This year, we have started right where we left off and have been growing and securing bigger and better sponsorships.”

Wade Middleton, director of collegiate operations for the Association of Collegiate Anglers, said collegiate fishing, even outside of Texas, is growing at an unprecedented rate.

“There are now over 250 schools nationwide that actively compete yearly,” Middleton said. “College fishing has grown about 400 percent since the ACA had its first event nine years ago.”

The Texas team hosted its first ever competition, the University of Texas Collegiate Invitational, on Lake Austin last Sunday.

“This is an Association of Collegiate Anglers event for all colleges,” Levy said. “I think everyone is going to talk about for it for years because it is the first college fishing tournament that guarantees all anglers will be rewarded with at least some [equipment] after the competition.”

In a collegiate bass fishing tournament, each school sends at least one team of one or two anglers who fish from the same boat for eight hours. If an angler wants to fish alone, the tournament director may assign a non-fishing observer to accompany the angler. Teams are scored based on the combined weight of their five heaviest bass of at least 15 inches in length.

“Largemouth bass, spotted bass and smallmouth bass are counted,” Levy said. “Bass presented for weigh-in that fail to measure the official length are not counted.”

Of the 10 schools that competed in Sunday’s tournament, the Longhorns’ top pairing of Carter Lyon and Carlos De La Fuente finished eighth overall, with a combined weight of 17.52 pounds. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s top duo won the event with a combined weight of 26.79 pounds.

The result may not have been what Texas was looking for, but the team’s passion and desire to succeed remains as high as ever.

“When I went through a breakup, that feeling didn’t even come close to the pain I was feeling when I lost a bass while fishing,” Levy said. “No matter what I go through, I will always be a fisherman and never give up.”

Photo Credit: Sam Ortega | Daily Texan Staff
Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Junior Jackson Jeffcoat, one of the best defensive ends in the country, scored his first touchdown in his college career against West Virginia

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Jackson Jeffcoat couldn’t believe how loud Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium was when he scored the first touchdown of his career as a Longhorn. It was the loudest he’d ever heard the stadium.

Fellow defensive end Alex Okafor sacked Geno Smtih inside the 5-yard line and forced a fumble. Jeffcoat recovered it in the end zone and tied the score,
21-21, in the second quarter.

“We both got glory on the same play,” Okafor said. “Normally with a sack, one guy gets the sack and the other guy has to help him celebrate. This time we could both celebrate at the same time.

It’s a drill that the two ends work on every week, and it certainly paid off.

Although Jeffcoat scored the touchdown, Okafor was named one of the Big 12 Defensive Players of the Week. He forced Smith to fumble twice and had two sacks. He also blocked a 42-yard field goal.

The two, along with the rest of the defensive line, pressured Smith throughout the game and had four total sacks. Smith was sacked four times, as many as he has been sacked in the four previous games combined.

“The way our defensive line played up front, the way we rushed the passer and things like that, was very exciting to see,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “As a coach, and again you want to talk about improving, we had to find a way to win the game, which was ultimately our failure, but there’s a lot of things to get you excited about coming to work the next day.”

Smith, a dual-threat quarterback, is very different from Oklahoma’s Landry Jones. They’ll need to put the same kind of pressure on him in order to be successful at the
Cotton Bowl Saturday.

Jeffcoat said the defensive line’s performance against West Virginia was encouraging and they will look to continue that pressure against Oklahoma.

Jones spends a lot of time in the pocket, but he struggles when he is pressured out of it. Although he has been working on having quicker feet and a better presence in the pocket, this tough defensive line will look to take advantage of that.

Okafor said it helps having a target like Jones in the backfield.

Jones, who is a senior, will look to finish his career at Oklahoma with a 3-0 record as a starting quarterback against Texas. On the other hand, Okafor, who is also a senior, is going to do his best to finish his career at Texas with a Red River Rivalry win.

“He’s just grasped the scheme so much better as he’s gotten older,” Okafor said about Jones. “The tempo is so much faster. He just makes his reads a lot quicker, and he gets the ball out of his hands a lot quicker. And that’s going to be difficult for us, especially up front, that he’s so fine-tuned with the offense.”

Oklahoma’s pass offense thrived during its rout of Texas Tech, and Jones threw for 259 yards and two touchdowns in the game that ended Oklahoma’s three-game losing streak in Lubbock.

Although Jones has gone through his ups and downs, Texas’ defensive line will need to pressure him much more than last year. The Longhorns do not want to see a repeat of last year’s 55-17 loss.

“They’ve done a good job of protecting him,” Jeffcoat said. “So it’s been hard to get back there. But like we said, our goal is to get pressure on the quarterback, and that’s what we’re going to work on and help out any way we can. We’re going to hustle, make sure we make plays.”

Printed on Wednesday, October 10, 2012 as: Defensive line tallies up sacks, aims to continue high pressure

After two games in the comfy confines of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Texas will be heading on the road for the first time this season, and it won’t be an easy test. The Longhorns are stepping into SEC country to play Ole Miss, and the crowd will be loud and hostile.

However, it’s the kind of environment that senior safety Kenny Vaccaro not only enjoys, but embraces. He revels in the fact that 60,000 people will cheer against him, so much so that he prefers playing at away games over suiting up at home.

“I like without a doubt playing on the road better than playing at home,” Vaccaro said. “It’s way louder and gets me way [more excited]. No offense to our fans, but [DKR] is not loud.”

Texas’ home stadium may not register very high on the decibel level but according to Vaccaro, Texas A&M’s Kyle Field is an incredible place to play, in part because all fans — not just the students — spend the whole game on their feet.

“Kyle Field is loud, man,” Vaccaro said. “Kyle Field gets wild.”

Vaccaro added that the annual Texas vs. Oklahoma game has an amazing atmosphere. During the Red River Rivalry, the Cotton Bowl is stuffed to capacity with 92,000 fans bathed in burnt orange and crimson, with the two sides split down the 50-yard line.

The Longhorns expect the atmosphere at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, surrounded by The Grove, the mecca of college football tailgating, to be as loud as any they’ll experience all season.

“It is exciting,” defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “It gets you pumped up when you have other teams booing you and all that. It’s a lot of fun. It presents a big challenge, and it’s fun to do.”