With more than 10 injuries on both sides of the football, the first game of the new Charlie Strong era saw the remaining Texas quarterback struggle early in the Orange-White Scrimmage on Saturday.
Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, who led the first-team offense, struggled through the first half. In addition to opening with an interception, the 6-foot-4-inch sophomore completed just two passes for nine yards through his first nine pass attempts. One incompletion sailed past senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley, when he was wide open in the end zone.
“Well, he had some overthrows, [but] you have to bounce back and get your head up and just execute and just do what we ask you to do,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “It is about your confidence, and once you start managing the offense, you understand that you are going to run the offense and that you have to have a sense of urgency about you.”
With less than eight minutes to go in the second quarter, Swoopes and the first team offense drove the ball 91 yards capped off by an 11-yard rushing touchdown from senior running back Malcolm Brown. And with seconds before halftime, Swoopes completed a hail mary pass to junior running back/wide receiver Daje Johnson.
In the second half, Swoopes completed eight of his next 10 passes. With a late third-quarter 6-yard touchdown pass to Brown, Swoopes ended the day 17-for-30 with 229 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
“Well, you like the way he was able to bounce back,” Strong said. “He missed some big throws there … but then the way he settled down and was able to bounce back, then you felt like OK, he is getting himself back under control.”
Swoopes took all of the snaps with the first-team offense and only faced the second-team defense. Strong said he wanted to the first team to come out with some confidence.
In the fourth quarter, Swoopes threw his best pass of the day as he connected with Shipley for a 44-yard touchdown. Shipley, who caught six passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, said Swoopes kept his composure and showed signs of maturity pushing through the bad plays.
Shipley expressed optimism about the coaching change.
“This was our first time to actually go through all the plays that we learned,” Shipley said. “We will have more time in fall camp to get better. We will improve.”
With the second-team offense, senior quarterback Miles Onyegbule completed 5-for-10 passes for 60 yards and had two interceptions. Walk-on quarterback Trey Holtz entered the game in the fourth quarter and went 5-for-7 for 55 yards and a touchdown pass to senior wide receiver John Harris near the end of the game.
Brown, who carried the ball 20 times for 82 yards with a rushing and a receiving touchdown, said the offense was not in sync at the beginning.
“That’s something we are going to work on,” Brown said. “We got a lot of guys on the offensive line that are getting more game reps than they are used to. … We all just have to get on the same page so we can all come out there and play fast.”