All in all, though, Watson was pleased with the way his sophomore quarterback performed. And it could have been better had Texas’ receivers not dropped five passes.
“He played a really good game in terms of getting us in a lot of the right plays,” Watson said. “He did a great job getting us in the right plays. He was good in his decision-making. We had five drops in that game, so he was on target, also.
“He made some big throws. The throw to John [Harris] was an NFL type throw, and I thought overall he played well. He's played better, but he played well. He rebounded from a subpar performance for him and continued to show he's maturing and working.”
To help Swoopes along in this process Watson often refers to a section in a position manual he gives to all his QBs called ‘Rules to live by.’
“There are things that have happened to me and to my players over my career, and I always keep those things in front of them, because those are the things, ironically -- listen to Teddy [Bridgewater], he still tells me he still remembers rules to live by,” Watson said. “He's still going through them at the next level, so those are part of the game.”
Watson said he is stressing to Swoopes to become a better game manager “because the really good quarterbacks, the great ones, are game managers.”
Watson is also stressing footwork with Swoopes. The more he develops better footwork, the longer he can stay in and out of the pocket and let plays develop for him downfield.
“That's one of the big areas he needs to improve on and become more consistent with, and then more consistent with his decision making and learn how to utilize all of the tools that we have available to him. He's still got a ways to go,” he said.
He made a ridiculous move on his 17-yard touchdown run in the second to get by a defender, which was really unlike anything we’ve seen from him this season.
“On his touchdown run, he made a great move,” Watson said. “Is it confidence now or is it strength or a combination of both? The touchdown run, the move he made on the safety to create the run, the finish of the run, was something you don't see a lot. He's just an outstanding athlete with instincts, and he's probably learning to trust and be confident in his rehab now.”
If so, Texas might have a better chance than we thought at winning two of these last three to become bowl eligible.
The Tech game was clearly one of, if not the best game that Texas’ offensive line played together as a whole.
Not only did Gray rush for 77 yards and a score but Malcolm Brown became the first UT player to surpass 100-yards rushing in a game with 116 yards and two scores on 22 carries.
Watson had nice things to say not only about the offensive line but about Texas’ tight ends and full backs as well for the game they had.
“I think you have to put into not only the O-line but the tight ends and the fullback and then our H, which is our lead, our adjuster that does the same work a fullback does for us,” Watson said. “Those kids all played really well and the guys that really go sometimes unnoticed, or that we don't give enough credit for the explosive runs, are the receivers. They were very good down field.”
We’ve all watched in awe at the season John Harris has had, especially given how little he’d done prior to his senior year.
Watson said he first knew Harris was in line to do something special during winter conditioning.
“That was the first glimmer of his commitment and the Hulk that might be out there,” Watson said. “He started making plays in spring on a consistent basis. It's one thing to make plays, it's another thing to be consistent in making plays, and that's what he's done. That's the tale of a guy who's totally committed in what they're doing, and he's balling. He's playing really good football, and that started in spring ball and carried into spring training camp and, of course, has been part of our season.”
Charlie Strong doesn’t want his defense to get into a shootout. In fact, he said he’d be mad if they ended up in one. But there’s a good chance that could happen and Watson knows his offense has to be ready.
“We better be ready to do that. When you get into those kind of things in the game the mindset is this: you do whatever it takes to win the football game,” he said. “If it means that you have to throw it to do that, that's what I'm assuming you're asking about, getting into a throwing contest, you have to be ready to do it. You have to be ready to do it, and you have to be ready to do it if that's what it takes to win.”
Texas was in a shootout the last time it played at home, defeating Iowa State 48-45.
Those two were fairly interchangeable and Watson thinks his current duo is as well.
“They're similar, but they're something different,” he said. “Malcolm's something different is he can run the thump, and Johnathan can really slash. What we were talking about earlier, that was a slash cut. He created an explosive play by putting his foot in the dirt and cutting through the guy's weak shoulder, and then he was gone.”
*****Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights
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