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Longhorns searching for a QB as spring competition heats up


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Story via Mike Roach

 

In the midst of the third season of spring practices in the Charlie Strong era, the stakes have never been higher for the embattled coach. Two strong recruiting classes and a completely new offense have given the program and its fans some life, but the pressure to produce results in 2016 is immense.

 

Texas is stocked with young talent at a number of positions thanks to a successful 2015 recruiting class, and optimism is high for the incoming group of freshmen that signed in February. Unfortunately the Longhorns still have no real answers for the most important position on the field.

 

The quarterback conundrum has been an incessant storyline in Austin since the moment Colt McCoy went down during the 2009 BCS Championship Game against Alabama. Sure there have been scattered performances of encouragement since that fateful evening, but the Longhorns' struggles are directly related to a lack of consistency at the quarterback position. New Offensive Coordinator Sterlin Gilbert arrived in Austin with a more “QB friendly” offense - one that just might be able to extend Charlie Strong's tenure on the 40 Acres.

When spring practice sessions began, Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard held the natural edge since both logged time as the starter last season. Swoopes enters his senior year as a player known for his immense physical talent which is intertwined with a multitude of errors and turnovers to go along with it. Last season Swoopes found success in the “18 Wheeler” package as a runner. That package gave the Texas offense an added dimension, but it wasn’t reliable enough to sustain an offense throughout an entire game, let alone a season.

 

Through spring practices thus far, Swoopes has been the most consistent performer, but he still has issues with accuracy and the ability to make quick decisions. The new Texas offense is a fit for him from an arm strength perspective, but without the accuracy and decision making prowess his efficacy still remains in question. Tyrone Swoopes has been a competent practice player during his tenure in Austin, but his struggles seem to amplify when the stadium lights come on. There is optimism that Swoopes might succeed in an offense predicated on pre-snap reads, rather than the complex system that Shawn Watson presided over. Unfortunately for Swoopes, many fans and pundits have made up their mind about his abilities, or lack thereof. Can he finally rise to the challenge of immense expectations, or will he simply struggle his way through his last season on campus?

The primary competition for Tyrone Swoopes is redshirt sophomore quarterback Jerrod Heard. Heard showed signs of his electric ability during his debut against Rice last season, and he really ignited the fan base following a record-breaking performance against Cal. Heard’s improvisational skills and dynamic running ability had fans thinking the Longhorns finally found the answer under center, but Heard struggled progressively as the season went on. His regression was highlighted by indecision, struggles with accuracy, and, Like Swoopes, poor decision making. Many young quarterbacks struggle in their first season, but the expectations are to see them build off of those struggles the following year.

 

Sources tell us that Heard's performances from spring practice sessions show an obvious need for improvement, like Swoopes'. Our source paints Heard as an erratic passer with a tendency to turn the ball over. Now that the Longhorns are back in session after spring break, Heard will really need to step up his performance if he intends to gain a firm hold on the competition. Heard's skillset also fits in the Sterlin Gilbert offense from a running perspective, but there are questions about his arm strength which might ultimately limit his ceiling.

True freshman quarterback Shane Buechele might be the dark horse to win this competition. The early enrollee is the best fit for the offense from both a physical and mental aspect. The challenge with Buechele as a legitimate option at the position this season is he needs a year in the weight room. The former Arlington Lamar product ran a similar offense in high school, and he showed a firm command with his accuracy. He also excels at the mental side of the game and he understands the preparation needed at this level. If Buechele can nail down the new Texas offense this spring and summer, he has a great shot to win the job in the fall. The staff will need to decide if he can handle the rigors of the college game, and if they want to put the load of this all-important season on the shoulders of a true freshman.

Kai Locksley and Matt Merrick are still on the periphery of the battle, but they are fading from the race. Locksley has an incredibly athletic skillset, but he’s struggled with consistency. Questions are already rising about his future position, as the former Under Armour All-American could move to receiver. Locksley came to Texas for a chance to play quarterback, so it is safe to assume that he will not give up on that dream easily. Locksley has fight in him and he'll push the envelope as long as he's given an opportunity.

Merrick has been playing from behind since he arrived in Austin. The former private school point guard switched to football late, and although he shows some aptitude for the position, he’s competing against guys who have been playing the position their entire lives. Merrick’s live arm and quick decisions make him a bankable future prospect, but he has some catching up to do before he’s ready to challenge for the starting role.

There is also some thought that after spring, Texas might pursue a graduate transfer to drive the bus while the young guys mature. The Longhorns have talked about this option for the last five seasons, but they’ve never been able to get it done. There is also the question of who will be available? For the most part, quality players aren’t going to be available after spring, though there are exceptions. At this time last year, Everett Golson was not yet a transfer candidate.

Sterlin Gilbert is known as a proven quarterback developer, but this season presents his toughest task to-date. The Longhorns have the most depth at quarterback since 2009, but no player has separated himself from the pack as of yet. All eyes will be focused on the final portion of spring practice, and you can bet that post-spring game reaction will be quite entertaining. The fact remains that this is the biggest and most important question mark the Longhorns have headed into into the season, and the coaches are hoping they can find an answer.

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My guess is we won't know who starts against ND until the Monday before the game.  As much as fans want Buechele to come in and immediately take the reins, I just don't see it happening.  Buechele starting means there are a handful of QB's on the roster that he beat out for the job - which doesn't look good for Texas.  

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Everything that I've read looks like Fenves, Perrin, and the UT administration are planning to give Strong 2017 unless we have another losing record.

 

I'll be surprised if he's fired after 7-5.

 

That does appear to be the plan. I wonder what 6 & 6 does to that conversation? 

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That does appear to be the plan. I wonder what 6 & 6 does to that conversation? 

He'll probably be back.

 

I guess the bigger question is, "Who can we get that will do better immediately and generate excitement with UT fans and alumni?" IMO, that's a very short list, unfortunately; Meyer, Harbaugh, Saban, and __________ ? None are likely to leave for UT.

 

The frustrating thing for me about Strong is

1. Our offensive struggles and

2. His apparent lack of creativity and improvisational skills

 

Saban played in a National Championship at Bama in Year 3, Harbaugh had a good season in his first year at UM, and Meyer wins everywhere he goes.

 

Yeah, yeah...I know Mack "left the cupboard bare". Does anybody think Harbaugh inherited a powerhouse roster last year? I don't. Yet somehow he finds a way to win.

 

UH's Tom Herman may be a good choice, if aggie doesn't beat us to him.

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He'll probably be back.

 

I guess the bigger question is, "Who can we get that will do better immediately and generate excitement with UT fans and alumni?" IMO, that's a very short list, unfortunately; Meyer, Harbaugh, Saban, and __________ ? None are likely to leave for UT.

 

The frustrating thing for me about Strong is

1. Our offensive struggles and

2. His apparent lack of creativity and improvisational skills

 

Saban played in a National Championship at Bama in Year 3, Harbaugh had a good season in his first year at UM, and Meyer wins everywhere he goes.

 

Yeah, yeah...I know Mack "left the cupboard bare". Does anybody think Harbaugh inherited a powerhouse roster last year? I don't. Yet somehow he finds a way to win.

 

UH's Tom Herman may be a good choice, if aggie doesn't beat us to him.

 

Based on the other sites I am on Herman is getting all the love. Matter of fact the love for Herman has become cult like and damn near erotic for them.

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At this point in Spring, I'd say Swoopes starts against ND and heard plays in some packages and situations. As the year goes on Buechele becomes the starter and Swoopes and Heard see their playing drop significantly, maybe a few package plays here and there. 

 

We go:

7 wins or less with below average QB play

8 wins with average QB play

8+ wins above average QB play

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At this point in Spring, I'd say Swoopes starts against ND and heard plays in some packages and situations. As the year goes on Buechele becomes the starter and Swoopes and Heard see their playing drop significantly, maybe a few package plays here and there. 

 

We go:

7 wins or less with below average QB play

8 wins with average QB play

8+ wins above average QB play

 

I think the assumption that Swoopes starts on 9/3 is pretty accurate.Fans should expect Charlie to maintain the "both will play" (Swoopes/Heard) talk like last year.  It's not reassuring for fans but it is what it is.

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I think he needs time, regardless.  the roster flip is happening, the new OC needs to establish his offense and find a QB he can trust to run it.  That QB may or may not be ready or on the roster as of today.  The OL is turning into a pack of hungry dogs, DL help is coming in a few months, the linebacker corps will be legit with a strong group in the defensive backfield.  Two huge RB's with power and burst, several WR's that can stretch the field....it is coming together.  The fan base needs to shut up, watch and be patient.  Every re-build is different, you can't compare Stoops year 2 to Strong' year 3 or Saban at year 3 to Strong.  When it flips, it flips.  This fan base has just as many obnoxious whinny bitches as every other program out there, sadly!

 

 

I'm all for this staff returning in '17 and beyond!  

 

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I think he needs time, regardless.  the roster flip is happening, the new OC needs to establish his offense and find a QB he can trust to run it.  That QB may or may not be ready or on the roster as of today.  The OL is turning into a pack of hungry dogs, DL help is coming in a few months, the linebacker corps will be legit with a strong group in the defensive backfield.  Two huge RB's with power and burst, several WR's that can stretch the field....it is coming together.  The fan base needs to shut up, watch and be patient.  Every re-build is different, you can't compare Stoops year 2 to Strong' year 3 or Saban at year 3 to Strong.  When it flips, it flips.  This fan base has just as many obnoxious whinny bitches as every other program out there, sadly!

 

 

I'm all for this staff returning in '17 and beyond!  

 

So if we go 5-7 or worse in 2016 you are good? NO THANKS... 9-3 is my bottom line.  Or i'm on the fire Strong train. 

 

 

If having higher expectations than 11-14 for a coach making top 10 money is a being a Whinny bitch then I am a proud one then... Also without the fanbase Strong does not get to make 5 million a year so yeah I won't shut up... I find your post complete BS by the way. 

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So if we go 5-7 or worse in 2016 you are good? NO THANKS... 9-3 is my bottom line.  Or i'm on the fire Strong train. 

 

 

If having higher expectations than 11-14 for a coach making top 10 money is a being a Whinny bitch then I am a proud one then... Also without the fanbase Strong does not get to make 5 million a year so yeah I won't shut up... I find your post complete BS by the way. 

Should card-carrying members of the Whiny Bitch Club get pins, caps, or t-shirts?

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So if we go 5-7 or worse in 2016 you are good? NO THANKS... 9-3 is my bottom line.  Or i'm on the fire Strong train. 

 

 

If having higher expectations than 11-14 for a coach making top 10 money is a being a Whinny bitch then I am a proud one then... Also without the fanbase Strong does not get to make 5 million a year so yeah I won't shut up... I find your post complete BS by the way. 

 

 

Should card-carrying members of the Whiny Bitch Club get pins, caps, or t-shirts?

....and I didn't call anyone out.    What is BS about the post?  It's all true and the fan base is full of whinny bitches just like every other fan base.  There're a lot of sensitive fans to go around as well.

 

You fit in wherever you see fit.  I don't see this team doing worse than 7-5 this year.  So, yes...I'm fine with him returning with this staff in 2017 based on that.  

 

The biggest question mark is and has been QB since McCoy went down in 2009.  The guy that could turn it around at the position may very well be on the roster, but I'm not a fan of playing true freshmen at QB.

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....and I didn't call anyone out.    What is BS about the post?  It's all true and the fan base is full of whinny bitches just like every other fan base.  There're a lot of sensitive fans to go around as well.

 

You fit in wherever you see fit.  I don't see this team doing worse than 7-5 this year.  So, yes...I'm fine with him returning with this staff in 2017 based on that.

 

No, you didn't call anyone out directly but your post implies everyone who's not on board with Strong coaching in 2017 - after yet another uninspiring 2016 season - is a "whiny bitch". 

 

Not being satisfied with 7-5 doesn't make me or anyone else too "sensitive", either, IMO. It's not the standard here. Even Strong understands that.

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So if we go 5-7 or worse in 2016 you are good? NO THANKS... 9-3 is my bottom line.  Or i'm on the fire Strong train. 

 

Everybody defines success differently.

 

For me, I expect 8-4 or better with no embarrassing blow out losses (ND, TCU, or Iowa State). I wanna see improvement and UT competing every week. IMO, that's not too much to ask from a $5MM per year head coach in his 3rd season.

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