More than meets the eye

Coincidence or not, when the Longhorns have been really good – as in, hold-the-crystal-ball-up-in-the-air-in-the-final-game-of-the-season good – they've had a vocal, fun-loving quarterback directing them.

Vince Young oozed self-confidence and had more flash than a strobe light.

Colt McCoy's fiery persona belied his small town roots. Remember the way he bounced off two Ohio State defenders and waltzed his way into the end zone during Texas' Fiesta Bowl victory in 2009? You'd have never guessed he grew up in a town of roughly 700 the way he played to the crowd.

But he did. He had it. Young had it.

Garrett Gilbert, not so much.

Jevan Snead, he may have had it but transferred before a verdict was reached.

Case McCoy, like his brother, had plenty of moxie but just not the same talent-level.

David Ash, TBD.

Tyrone Swoopes, at first glance, it would appear not. But the quiet, somewhat aloof demeanor he sometimes lets on isn't actually the reality of who the 6-foot-4, 245-pound sophomore truly is, according to his teammates.

"He's not uncomfortable," running back Malcolm Brown said. "He's just a guy that doesn't speak up as much like some of the coaches might want him to. But right now, to when he just got on campus, he's 100 percent better."

There's nothing wrong with being reserved or not outright with your emotions. Nothing at all. But having that rah-rah persona as a quarterback to be able to take control of the huddle is something most would say they'd rather have in their quarterback.

Perhaps Swoopes does have it, he's just waiting for the right time to unleash it all. But he'd better be careful not to wait too long or that time may never come.

There may be two quarterbacks joining the fold this fall and the one definitely on his way – Jerrod Heard – relishes the spotlight. He's as clutch a big-game performer as the state of Texas has ever seen at the high school level.

By now we know the story of Swoopes' down-and-up day at the Orange-White scrimmage. His first throw was intercepted by a walk-on. He completed just two of his first nine passes and was sacked four times in the first half.

That's not all his fault, sure, but the reality of playing that position is you're going to get blamed for it more times than not.

What Swoopes did show was a willingness to put a dismal first half behind him and finish the game on a positive note. He finished with a respectable 17-of-30 for 229 yards and three touchdowns.

Not only should it give him confidence heading into the fall when the quarterback situation is going to look a whole lot different. But his demeanor in the huddle gave his teammates some assurance that, yeah, the small town kid with the big-time arm can get the job done. Granted it was against Texas' second-string.

"I think he's a good leader," wide receiver Jaxon Shipley said. "He's becoming more vocal and is letting us know when he thinks something is important. He's really stressing it. He got mad at a couple of balls that he threw. But that's natural, you get mad at yourself. That shows that you care. But he didn't let it get to him so much that he stopped playing. As the game went on he really improved."

Shipley said it best, and it's worth repeating, that he would have been nervous in Swoopes' shoes on Saturday. This was, after all, his first time as the No. 1 quarterback. All eyes were on him.

Players understood his desire to put on a show, and realized he may have been pressing a bit at the beginning to get that done. Others saw it differently.

"I don't think he was nervous," center Dominic Espinosa said. "If anything it would have been him being the quarterback today, which I think anyone would have been a little nervous. I would have been for sure. That's why I got more excited was because I didn't see that in him, especially when we got rolling I don't think he was nervous at all."

Espinosa knows better than anyone how to gage a quarterback. He's seen plenty of them come in and out going on his fourth year as the starting center for UT. He saw plenty of fight in Swoopes.

"He is doing a great job," Espinosa said. "The good thing about him is he's a social guy. He's real relatable. He's a cool guy and I think that shows in the huddle. When he started out slow in the beginning he had a smile on his face and was trying to make things light in the huddle. I think that's a good characteristic to have in a young quarterback."

Espinosa applauded Swoopes for doing the little things right in the midst of his turbulent day, like shaking the hands of the offensive linemen on the sidelines.

"I think little things like that go a long way with a quarterback," he said. "I was excited to see him doing that."

It was a team effort on the field just as it was a team effort for those players made available for interviews to stick up for their quarterback, who was not around to talk.

So while Swoopes might not be that outwardly vocal signal-caller that Texas has banked on for success, at least not to the public eye, his teammates seem to have plenty of moxie, which could be all they need.


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