With the transfer of Connor Brewer to play for the Arizona Wildcats, there were some minor concerns for the Texas Longhorns regarding who would be third on the depth chart behind junior starter David Ash and his backup Case McCoy.
The initial assumption was highly regarded true freshman Tyrone Swoopes would be the third QB– and given his outstanding Spring Game performance — that Swoopes could possibly even be injected into certain packages which would allow him to see some playing time in the new fast-paced offensive scheme this fall. While there’s no questioning Swoopes’ athletic ability, several reports from Texas writers have suggested he has shown difficulty in adapting to the up-tempo practices so far this pre-season and has been wildly inaccurate in game situational drills, while performing on average in shell passing drills and grouping drills.
The passing game– whether short, intermediate, or long — will be an essential element of a new offensive scheme which is still run-oriented but will have a much greater passing element to it than in years past. The wildness appears to be in part due to the overall increase in speed at the Division I level, which is always a challenge for new quarterbacks, but could reasonably be even greater for one who played at the 3A level in Texas and hasn’t seen the type of athletes he is facing, or will face, on every down in the Big 12.
Footwork issues are also apparent — another hallmark of most freshman quarterbacks who haven’t competed in a high-intensity environment. With only 19 days remaining before the Texas opener against the New Mexico State Aggies in Austin, the concerns about Swoopes’ ability to play outside of specially-designed running packages which would likely feature runs or zone reads with the scat backs, could drive the coaching staff to consider whether they can afford the luxury of applying a redshirt to Swoopes for 2013, and re-evaluate Jalen Overstreet as the team’s emergency QB should something happen to both Ash and McCoy.
Texas would prefer to use Overstreet as a wild-card both in direct snap formations and out of the slot along with Daje Johnson, an in a perfect world would be able to do so. The greater question is what value Major Applewhite and Mack Brown see Swoopes as bringing to the table as pre-season practices wind down and decisions have to be made. The future of the program at quarterback will be greatly affected by the decision they make.
Can Swoopes be red-shirted in 2013 in a hope that those above him stay healthy? Is there enough faith placed in 2014 QB Jerrod Heard that a competition could be in the works for the backup job next fall? Would redshirting Swoopes serve the proper purpose?
These are just a few of the questions that do not yet have answers.