If you’re looking for a coach to second-guess Charlie Strong’s way of operating it won’t be Watson.
He backed up his friend and colleague on Tuesday after Strong dismissed Kennedy Estelle, the ninth player he’s kicked off the team.
“Charlie has core values that we follow, everybody believes in them,” Watson said. “One of the things I’ve always respected most about Charlie, and why I’m with him, is he believes in the things it takes to be a successful human being. He takes a roll unlike a lot of people I’ve been around in this profession. He’s a father figure. He really cares what a person, a player, becomes later in life. He’s an outstanding roll model.”
Watson said that it kills Strong to have to let a player go.
“I’ve seen this guy believe in so many people,” Watson said. “I can remember times at Louisville, I knew there was something bad for the team and he saw something in the individual that he changed peoples lives. But here’s the key, they wanted their lives change. Sometimes it doesn’t work. He is the last guy to ever give up on a kid, the last.”
Watson said that he and the rest of the coaching staff are kept in the loop on dismissals but that it’s ultimately Strong’s decision.
“Depends on the situation, to be honest. It just depends,” he said. “Things that are really family business, that's not really for public to know but we're in the loop when need be.”
What Tyrone Swoopes lacks in collegiate experience he makes up for in character and that, according to Watson, is going to take him a long ways.
“He's not a finished product, as you guys know, but what I love about Ty is I love his character,” Watson said. “He's got outstanding character and that character is what's going to enable him to find his goal. I really believe that in the end, when his career ends here, he will have found something pretty special because he's got great character. And with that character comes a work ethic and he realizes what it takes to achieve a goal.”
One area that Watson has seen improvement is in Swoopes’ commitment to film study.
“He's taken ownership in what it takes to be a great player,” Watson said. “Ty's got a lot of development left. The number one thing I've tried to get him to understand is developing the character it takes, the work ethic it takes. My first question to him was, "At the end of your career, how do you want your career to look? And then, now what's your plan on getting there?" And then along the way, I've taught him things he needs to know to get there. It's a process with a quarterback. Especially he's coming from a background from a smaller high school, he needed a lot of football work, plus what we're doing. He's had to develop what all of them have to develop and that's the management aspect you hear me talk about a lot. He's putting in the work necessary.”
It’s shown so far despite Texas’ 0-2 record with him as a starter.
Swoopes has completed 44-of-65 passes for 377 yards. His 67.7 completion percentage ranks No. 19 in the country.
He’s also only committed just one turnover, which Watson admitted wasn’t even his fault but that of an errant blocking assignment.
“He's made really good decisions. He's made excellent decisions,” Watson said. “It goes back to what we've talked about a few times, he's been an excellent student.”
Watson said he was happy to see that Swoopes wasn’t pleased with his first half performance in the spring game and used that as fuel for motivation to have a good fall camp.
“Then when he had his opportunity, he was ready,” Watson said. “So he's everything I've hoped he would become. When you see him walk into a room, you guys have all seen him, obviously. He's a good-looking dude. You're thinking about this, that's what they look like. Now the task is to get him to play up to that.”
Watson said Swoopes was “night and day” from the spring game.
“Not even close,” he said.
Because of David Ash’s decision to stop playing football the Longhorns are currently left with only two scholarship quarterbacks.
Would Watson think about taking another quarterback in 2015 to go along with four-star commitment Zach Gentry?
“With this class, we've talked about it,” he said. “We'll look into that market. We honestly have got to create all the positions. That can be said for quarterback, as well as all of them.”
Watson said he likes to have four or five quarterbacks to work with, who will test each other on a daily basis.
“We just built a deal there at Louisville,” he said. “Teddy Bridgewater was chasing Will Stein when he first showed up and then Will Gardner started chasing Teddy Bridgewater. Then we kept bringing guys in and they started chasing people. So when that room gets competitive, that's when you start playing your best football because you have to compete everyday. You have to have competition in your classrooms.”
There’s no easy way to talk about Texas’ offensive line right now. But Watson did say that the five starters are giving it their all right now.
“Those five kids have done everything we've asked them to do and they're working their tail ends off,” he said. “We're getting some of the younger kids up and we're working with them now to be there in case, if nothing else, for our future. We've made a youth movement in the twos that's helping us develop our depth further for the future and we're working hard with those kids that we have. That's what we've got, we've got to work with it.”
Watson expects tight end Greg Daniels to play on Saturday.
“That's a hope right now,” Watson said. “We'll know more as we continue to get through this week. He's been back working with us and he's looking good right now. We'll see how he holds up as the week wears on.”
The former defensive tackle missed the first three games of the season after having his knee scoped during fall camp.
Daniels is one of the best blocking tight ends the Longhorns have and would be an upgrade in that category from M.J. McFarland, who has filled in with Geoff Swaim in Daniels’ absence.
He has matured as a pass-catching threat with eight catches for 118 yards in his career.
Texas hasn’t been able to get its tight ends involved in the passing game as much as it would have liked to this point. McFarland leads all TE’s with three catches for nine yards while Swaim has two catches for 14 yards.