Coming into the season, sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was just an inexperienced backup quarterback whom Longhorn fans were hoping they wouldn’t have to see in 2014.
Swoopes struggled in limited playing time last season, leading many to fear absolute disaster if he was forced to handle a significant number of snaps in place of the oft-injured redshirt junior David Ash this season.
Sure enough, just three games into the season, Swoopes has already started more games than Ash has this year. But, to the surprise of many, the 6-foot-4-inch, 243-pound gunslinger’s performance hasn’t yet been the disaster fans expected.
Although Texas came up short in the 20-17 loss to No. 12 UCLA, Swoopes’ performance was worthy of a victory at AT&T Stadium on Saturday night.
The former four-star recruit completed more than 70 percent of his passes for a total of 196 yards and two touchdowns against the Bruins and led an impressive 80-yard touchdown drive to give Texas the lead late in the fourth quarter.
“[Swoopes] just continues to get better and better,” Texas head coach Charlie Strong said. “You look at him this week, and he made really good throws. He’s big and strong enough where he can make the plays and with pressure, you can run.”
Swoopes’ performance against BYU last week wasn’t poor by any means, considering it was his first career start at Texas. But his game looked so improved against UCLA that, at times, it seemed like he was an entirely different player.
Take, for example, his 33-yard completion to fifth-year senior John Harris in the second quarter. The pocket quickly collapsed on Swoopes; but instead of panicking the way he had on multiple occasions a week earlier, he calmly escaped the pressure, waited for Harris to outrun the coverage and threw a perfect ball.
“I felt a lot more comfortable,” Swoopes said. “I played last week, and with that, I built confidence. I came in a little bit more confident, and I can build off that next
While nothing has been made official, it looks as though Ash will be out for the foreseeable future, meaning it’s Swoopes’ team to lead. He’ll want to continue improving as an individual, but at the end of the day, he will be judged based on his ability to win games.
Swoopes was a superstar in his senior year at Whitewright High School but won just one game that year. So far he’s 0-2 at Texas, and as long as the losses continue to mount, the individual numbers won’t matter.
“I thought I played well, but at the end, it is not about me,” Swoopes said. “We still didn’t win, so we have to build confidence off this and try to get the win next time.”