During his junior season in high school, quarterback Tyrone Swoopes tallied 560 rushing yards and seven touchdowns against Tom Bean High School. The performance had people raving about his potential impact as a dual-threat quarterback at the collegiate level.
Through his first three games as a starter, Swoopes’ impact on the ground was minimal, failing to rush for more than 11 yards in any of the contests.
“I guess going into the season, I hadn’t really got too much of kind of what it feels like to go out there and play, so I was a little bit timid, kind of when I ran the ball a little bit,” Swoopes said.
Against Oklahoma, he had a long run negated by a holding penalty and entered the fourth quarter with only 15 yards on the ground. But down 31-20, that all changed. Swoopes ran for 33 yards on the 52-yard scoring drive, including a 12-yard zone read keeper that he high-stepped into the end zone to bring the score within five.
“I just kind of decided to just let it loose and kind of just thought, ‘What’s the worst that can happen if I was decisive?’” Swoopes said. “I decided to just kind of get upfield and do something.”
The apparent threat of a Swoopes run adds another dimension to the offense for which opposing defenses must prepare.
“The defense has to have that in the back of their mind,” senior running back Malcolm Brown said. “They can’t just expect him to chill in the pocket the whole time, so it opens up a whole lot.”
In Texas’ 48-45 victory over Iowa State on Saturday, Swoopes ran for a career-high 95 yards, 55 of which came in the fourth quarter. The 95 yards represented the most yards any Texas player has run for this season.
“He took over that offense in the fourth quarter, and it was actually unbelievable,” senior wide receiver John Harris said. “He was getting some yards after the run, so that did surprise me. You know, he’s not very fast, but, when he gets out of the pocket, he gets going, and most people don’t want to hit him.”
With a 4.77 40-yard dash, Swoopes is not going to outrun many players, but senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said his massive size makes him a force on the ground.
“He’s 6-foot-5, 250-260 [pounds],” Diggs said. “Nobody wants to tackle him.”
Starting recently, Swoopes started to open up his playbook, holding the ball on zone-read plays. While head coach Charlie Strong said he had the ability to call his own number for a while, there is a reason for the increased emphasis on quarterback runs.
“We felt like it would just help his game more, and it would take some pressure off him, having him just sit back there and just release the ball where people can load the box,” Strong said.