Watson wants Swoopes, not superman

Shawn Watson assumed his usual seat in front of the media on Tuesday and immediately cracked a smile.

No, really, he did.

For as doom-and-gloom as Texas’ current quarterbacks situation might appear after Monday’s news that David Ash won’t play against BYU, UT’s assistant head coach for offense/quarterbacks coach was anything but hunched shoulders and little eye contact. He was as positive as positive goes.

Asked how dire it was in the locker room, Watson smirked and responded, “It’s just called ‘Opportunities.’ These kinds of things happen during the season.”

Unfortunately for Texas, it’s well aware of that fact.

Ash missed the final 10 games in 2013 with concussion-like symptoms and will miss an undisclosed number of games after experiencing headaches and dizziness after Texas’ season-opening victory over North Texas.

Watson said he was viewing Ash’s situation as “day-to-day” as he gets updates from team doctors on what’s going on. But there are very few scenarios out there, if any, that put Ash under center anytime soon.

So the Longhorns must turn the page and they’ll do so Saturday with sophomore Tyrone Swoopes, who is 5-of-13 for 26 yards in his limited time in six games at Texas.

Despite those numbers, and a rough outing against Texas’ second-string defense in the spring game, Watson said that “Ty” was ready for Saturday.

“Your backup is always the most important player in your program,” Watson said. “I share those things with Ty. He has done a nice job of getting himself through training camp. We get to accentuate whole new personnel, a whole new set of skills. He allows us to do some things that we couldn’t or wouldn’t have done with David that we have in our package. We will be able to open up some of that stuff.”

Watson didn’t expand on what types of things those might be but you’d have to imagine they’ll play to Swoopes’ strengths, which are his running abilities and arm strength. For someone 6-foot-4 and 243 pounds, he has plenty of both.

“He is very athletic,” Watson said. “He is a physical presence. He has a very strong arm. He can fit a ball in to tight windows. David had the same type of arm. We aren’t giving up anything in ball speed. He’s done a good job of managing what we need to do. We’ll keep it comfortable for him.”

As for those wondering if true freshman Jerrod Heard will also see his first game action, it’s not likely.

“Not right now,” Watson said. “We have to get Ty ready. In the weeks that we have right now it’s hard to get two guys ready in terms of a reps standpoint.”

So Swoopes’ show it is and Watson wants to make sure that’s all it is, whatever “that” is exactly.

"He does not need to wear and ‘S’ on his chest and a cape on his back, and try to do it by himself. It won’t work that way."

“He has to be a part of why we win,” Watson said. “He has two guys at tailback. He’s got a gifted core of receivers. He’s got really good tight ends and a really good offensive line. He has to let those people help him. He does not need to wear and ‘S’ on his chest and a cape on his back, and try to do it by himself. It won’t work that way.”

Watson should know. He coached a similar situation in 2011 when Louisville quarterback Will Stein was injured in the third game of the season against Kentucky with a separated shoulder. He was to miss 3-to-6 weeks, which forced Teddy Bridgewater into action.

Teddy Bridgewater.

“It will be very similar with what I did with Teddy Year 1,” Watson said. “It’s a comparison in the situation. Teddy was forced into a situation.”

The Cardinals lost their first three games – vs. Marshall, 17-13; at North Carolina, 14-7; at Cincinnati, 25-16 – with Bridgewater as the starter before finishing the season with wins in five of their last six regular season games.

Louisville averaged 12 points per game in those three loses but 27.2 in its last six games.

Success came when Bridgewater learned to let the game come to him, trust his preparation and learn to react in the game, Watson said.

Early indications are Swoopes is doing everything he can to put himself in the best situation to succeed.

“Ty has been the cool, calm customer he is,” Watson said. “I think he is a very well-liked player on this team, and a very respected player for his work ethic and his character. He has a lot of team respect. The guys rally behind him. His demeanor hasn’t changed.”

Watson said Ash has been by Swoopes side every day trying to help. Collectively they are all getting through this together.

“You have to be a good example to the players, these are life lessons,” Watson said. “It’s what the game of football taught me. It’s what the game of football teaches all of us. It’s perseverance and how to find your way through difficult situations and rise above it, and we will. We have a great group of kids. They are buying into everything that we ask them to do.”

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