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David Leffler
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Swoopes! There it is

10/23/2014 9:55pm
last edited:10/24/2014 7:37am

Tyrone Swoopes, pictured above, stiff-arms an Iowa State defender in Texas' 48-45 victory last week. The first-year starter continues to exceed expectations.

When Tyrone Swoopes took the snap at his own 28-yard line with :22 left in regulation and his team tied with Iowa State at 45 apiece, he did what no one expected him to: lead a game-winning drive. After hitting Jaxon Shipley down the left sideline for a 39-yard gain, he followed with a perfect fade route to John Harris to get the Longhorns down to the Cyclones’ 4-yard line. Before anyone could blink, Nick Rose knocked through a chip shot from 21 yards out to give Texas the 48-45 victory, leaving everyone thinking, “What the hell just happened?”

You can’t blame me for biting my fingernails when Swoopes dropped back and looked Shipley’s way; you would have too if you’d watched Longhorn football the past four years. From Garret Gilbert to David Ash to Case McCoy back to David Ash, the burnt orange have made a habit out of subpar quarterback play. Had either one of the three guys mentioned above taken that snap with 22 seconds on the clock, they would have either:  A) Telegraphed their pass and thrown a costly interception, B) Held onto the ball too long and taken a sack, or C) Thrown a short pass for a minimal gain to take the game into overtime.  However, Swoopes chose option D) None of the above.  This is just the latest—and most impressive—example of how quickly the sophomore signal caller is progressing, giving Longhorn fans an offense worth watching for the first time this decade. 

Swoopes’ ascension has come unexpectedly. Used sparingly during his freshman season, he took a backseat to the fiery but athletically inferior Case McCoy (who shares no commonalities with his brother, Colt, other than their last name) and played poorly when given the opportunity. As a result, he was viewed by many as merely a stopgap between the concussed David Ash and Jerrod Heard, a highly touted redshirt freshman who until recently was unquestionably Texas’ quarterback of future.

Boy, how the script has been flipped over the past month. The Whitewright, TX native has looked increasingly confident, decisive, and explosive with each start he's made—a credit to play-caller Shawn Watson (who was JACKED UP after Swoopes’ game-sealing completion against Iowa State) & co., who have really let him loose the past two games. All in all, Swoopes has accumulated 655 passing yards, 145 rush yards, and 5 TD’s in his last two starts—the type of numbers that Texas fans haven’t seen since the likes of Colt McCoy and Vince Young were under center.

 Though he’s not expected to put up video game stats every week, there’s no telling how far this kid can go if he maintains this confidence and high level of play. In what is a clear indicator of how far Texas football has fallen, Swoopes’ rise to stardom gives the Longhorns (3-4, 2-2 Big 12) a legitimate shot at a bowl berth in Charlie Strong’s first season. If he can maintain this progression and get some talent around him, he’s got a chance to take this program to much greater heights.

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