Tyrone Swoopes Shows He's Capable Of Being A Prime-Time QB

Tyrone Swoopes' performance was the silver lining in the Longhorns' 20-17 loss against #12th-ranked UCLA this weekend. Although the final numbers weren't that flashy, Swoopes put Texas in a position to win the game after leading the team on a 10-play, 80-yard drive to take the lead with a little more than five minutes left on the clock. However, a defensive breakdown and questionable play-calling on the final drive led to a heartbreaking Longhorn defeat in Arlington.

The learning curve may end up being too steep for Swoopes to lead the Longhorns to the kind of season fans crave, but his second career start was encouraging, and hopefully a sign of greater things to come. Swoopes still has a lot of room to improve, as he's currently operating on limited reads while learning the playbook, but this week was a giant step in the right direction. Just a few months ago, Swoopes was labeled as an inaccurate passer, but a new throwing motion combined with his rocket of an arm has him looking like a legitimate starting QB.

Following the game, offensive coordinator Shawn Watson had this to say about his quarterback:

"Ty is really moving a lot faster than I thought. He's playing very confident football right now. We just need to get all the tools around him. I like that our receivers are starting to come around with him. I like what's happening with that aspect of our game. Once we get back at full speed, it will be interesting to see how far he can go because I think he's a really exceptional player."

The Longhorns have yet to test Swoopes' arm strength and ability to throw the deep ball. He is still operating in a simplified passing scheme that protects him from having to make too many reads. This is not a long-term concern. It's a process that every young quarterback must go through, and the upcoming bye week should give him even more time to learn and adjust.

The one important change that Shawn Watson made on Saturday was getting Swoopes into the no-huddle offense. The uptempo offense forced him to play his natural game and not overthink situations. In addition, it limited UCLA's defensive substitutions and greatly benefited the simplified offense that Texas is currently running. It was clear that Swoopes performed much better in hurry up situations, as he looked much more comfortable and in control than he did just a week ago.

swoopes motion

The team's bye week this week could be exactly what the Longhorns need. Texas still has two suspended offensive linemen in Kennedy Estelle and Desmond Harrison, and if the Longhorns get those guys back they could provide the young quarterback with the protection he needs to grow as a passer.

The growth of Swoopes and the reconstruction of the offense won't happen overnight. Coach Strong and Joe Wickline need time to recruit and coach up an offensive line that can impose its will on opposing defenses. They need time to fill out the roster with playmakers, and they need time for Tyrone Swoopes to refine his skills and become a dangerous quarterback.

There will be some growing pains during the 2014 season, so it may be hard to measure the progress this year purely in wins. However, the performance against UCLA was an extremely encouraging sign for the Longhorns. Now Texas, fans will have to wait until September 27th to see if that growth will continue against Kansas.

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