HD Roundtable: Should Heard play after OU?

Question: Should Saturday be Tyrone Swoopes' last chance to prove his worth before the Longhorns turn to Jerrod Heard? Or would you give Swoopes more time and keep the redshirt on Heard?

Chip Brown

If Tyrone Swoopes continues to regress, the coaches then have to ask themselves if they need to use the last six games to see what they have in Jerrod Heard.

If the coaches reach a point in which they become convinced that Swoopes does not have the upside to be a future QB at Texas, then they have to decide if Heard's legs add a dimension to the offense that could help score points.

If Heard is that far behind Swoopes, then do you take walk-on Trey Holtz or Logan Vinklarek for a test drive?

You just can't have a quarterback who fails to progress to the point where the locker room is starting to teeter. And after half the season, maybe Heard has made enough progress that he can come in and help.

I'm not opposed to burning Heard's redshirt - but only if Heard is showing signs of passing Swoopes in terms of being able to move the offense.

Everyone wanted Heard to be able to redshirt. But that was before David Ash went down. Now, it's time for Swoopes to get back to making the progress he showed against UCLA (24-of-34 passing and 2 TDs with no INTs, including an 11-of-11 start).

If that doesn't happen this week against OU, it might be time to evaluate the progress of the other QBs on the roster, including Jerrod Heard.

William Wilkerson

I think Texas is in some serious danger of experiencing a whole lot of heartache if Tyrone Swoopes doesn’t start progressing more and leading this offense to more than 13.5 points per game, which UT is averaging since he took over.

I know that Swoopes is far from the only issue here. The offensive line, while getting better, isn’t up to snuff, which has made it hard on the running game to take off.

But you’ve got to get more of out Swoopes. He looked, and admitted, that he was nervous against Baylor after taking a few hits. He looked slow with his progressions, threw behind or low on seemingly every pass, and isn’t displaying the running capability that many hoped he would have.

If Texas’ offense sputters against Oklahoma I do think it’s time to give Jerrod Heard an opportunity to see what he can do. Texas would be risking a lot but UT can’t afford to waste a season after going 25-14 over the last three seasons.

I know redshirting Heard would likely be in his and the staff’s best interest but you are gambling an awfully lot that recruits won’t lose interest more than some (John Burt, Ryan Newsome) appear to have already had.

And the team is saying all the right things publicly about their not being any finger pointing in the locker room, but what happens if this offense continues to sputter for another month?

Texas is averaging 93K at home this season. There were huge pockets of empty seats on Saturday for the Baylor game. If the Longhorns get it handed to them in Dallas, what kind of crowd is going to show up against Iowa State?

We aren’t sure how Heard’s skillset is going to translate to the college game. But you’d have six games at minimum after OU to find out before we turn the page on this season. I think Texas should give him a shot if Swoopes doesn’t show marked improvement.

Jason Higdon

Has the kid made some mistakes? Yes he has.

Tyrone Swoopes was not supposed to be the starting quarterback this season, but things happen. Unforeseen events have caused unrealistic expectations but Swoopes is making the best of the situation. Overall he has performed better than what many expected.

First time starting QB with a new staff and people want to pull the plug already? Crazy talk if you ask me.

Now, I will say I would not mind getting Heard a series or two to get him in the game if the opportunity presents itself. The only issue is he is still feeling overwhelmed when the helmets go on.

The coaching staff is doing the absolute right thing at this time with what they have to work with.

Gabe Brooks

I know the level of frustration with the Texas offense is high within the fan base and undoubtedly the folks in the locker room.

However, I don't think burning Heard's redshirt is the best idea at this point.

Sitting at 2-3 with four games against teams ranked in this week's top 17 -- three of those games away from Austin -- I'm not sure how much good it's gonna do to throw a true freshman into the fire.

After all, Swoopes is still relatively young. Even if he's not the quarterback of the future, he did earn the second spot behind David Ash ahead of Heard. Surely there's a reason for that.

With each passing week, this season looks more and more like a tough one to stomach. I'm not sure how big of an improvement Heard could provide, even if he performed significantly beyond the expectations you'd have for a true freshman.

Furthermore, if you burn his redshirt and he struggles, you end up in the two-quarterback limbo that so often stunts the development of both young quarterbacks. Not to evoke the infamous name of Ryan Perrilloux, but just ask Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee about that type of situation.

So, if it's up to me, I ride out 2014 with Swoopes. In my opinion, playing him for the duration of the season involves the least risk of any of the options on the table.

Nick Castillo

There is a vicious cycle going on at the Texas quarterback position. Ever since Colt McCoy went down in the national championship game and Garrett Gilbert failed to live up to the hype, the Longhorns have searched for the perfect fit at the position.

We witnessed it in 2011 when Gilbert battled with David Ash, Connor Wood and Case McCoy. Eventually the list was whittled down to just Ash and McCoy and it remained that way until McCoy graduated.

Ash appeared to be the answer. Entering this season Ash, even after his injury, I thought he’d be able to lead the Longhorns back to the upper-echelon of success. With that in mind, I thought the most appropriate thing for Texas do this season was to redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard, a luxury Ash wasn’t given.

But now here the Longhorns are, heading into the Red River Shootout at 2-3, Ash has retired after suffering his third concussion, they’re relying on sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and a makeshift offensive line.

Swoopes has been adequate but the offense has failed to put up points. The defense has played phenomenally but the offense has hamstrung them keeping them on the field too long and eventually allowing for the dam to break.

I mention all of the above because I think the Red River Shootout should be Swoopes’ final showcase. If he fails to perform at a higher level than he has already played at then it’s time to see what Heard can do.

But I worry that by burning Heard’s redshirt we will allow the vicious cycle to continue. We’ll say “let’s give Heard some playing time and allow incoming quarterback Zach Gentry to redshirt” thus allowing the cycle to keep tumbling around. I also worry that if Heard struggles then his confidence may go down the way Gilbert’s did in 2011-2012.

Swoopes may ascend into another level of play but it has to be now. I’ve always believed that Heard is the future and as unfortunate as it may be for Swoopes it’s time to see what the future holds.

The season may already be a loss but it can also be salvaged and Heard may be the guy to turn this season around.

Greg Powers

My answer would be: probably not.

I’m not all the way down on Swoopes yet, despite the fact I think that the Baylor game was his weakest of the year.

This is a young or inexperienced team on offense, especially on the offensive line that has been hit hard by team suspensions and injuries. Texas is a young team that is undergoing a big transition. I just do not think huge offensive success is something that is going to happen overnight.

And while a quarterback change can provide a spark, often times the core problems of the team can and usually do resurface quickly.

It’s easy to point to the quarterback and say that he is the problem with the offense, but you are not seeing a lot of explosive playmaking from any of the skill positions (RB and WR). There are no underneath catches being turned in to big gains and the backs are not making people miss on the second and third levels.

There aren’t any home runs being hit by the Texas offense.

Could Heard come in and be that home-run hitter or a provide the spark the Texas offense is missing? Possibly, but at this point it’s just my own opinion the move would be a short-term answer to a much bigger problem.


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