Regardless of how Tyrone Swoopes finishes this season he won’t be penciled in as the starter going into next season.
Watson said that Swoopes, like every offensive player, will have to compete for the right to start for the Longhorns.
"In our program, the way it always will be here, we'll compete every spring, every winter, every training camp,” Watson said. “There will be a job open for every position. That's the way we do it. So Ty will have to continue to work and grow himself.”
Watson said that Texas is looking for a “championship quarterback” and when you are looking for that you are looking for the best.
How do you create the best? Competition.
“What you need in your room, every room - quarterback, obviously, most important - you've got to have competition,” Watson said. “You've got to have guys in there competing. As we grow the program here, we've got the hand dealt to us. Our job now is to improve the hand dealt to us. That's our No. 1 task right now, to make sure that room has a lot of competition in it. I'd like to have four guys in there that are after each other competing for chairs. First chair, second chair, third chair, fourth chair. That's how you grow your football team. You're only as good as your competition in the room."
In baseball terms, Swoopes is still going through the lineup for the first time. So he’s still trying to figure things out without any previous first-hand knowledge.
That can bring about many problems.
How quickly Swoopes can turn those problems into positives could depend on what their background was in football.
“Teddy [Bridgewater] had more background passing than what Ty's got,” Watson said. “He went through it a little bit quicker. I've had guys who haven't had that background, and they've gone through it slower. You just got to work your way through the process."
Watson said he had a lengthy film session with Swoopes after the West Virginia game to try and figure out why, again, the quarterback just didn’t succeed.
"I wanted to know exactly what he was thinking, and for him to know exactly what I was thinking, exactly what I see, break it down to detail what he needed to do, and where he needs to improve his game,” Watson said.
Wintry weather could come into play in Stillwater this weekend but Watson is unsure as of now how that will effect Texas’ offensive game plan.
“Weather can play a factor. We started talking about today how it may affect us and what the plan may be,” he said. “Honestly, you've got to get to game time. You've got to get there and see what the weather is like. Is wind a factor? In terms of wetness, is there rain or is there snow? That type of thing.”
“You honestly could not throw it going into their facility, it was such a strong wind,” he said.
Texas offensive coordinator Joe Wickline will head into Stillwater with a lot more than the game on his mind, one would have to assume. And he’s doing what he can to make sure he leaves town with a victory.
Watson said he’s giving the team insight into players from his former team and talking about certain changes they’ve made defensively.
“Obviously, he's got a lot of knowledge about their players,” Watson said. “He'd be the first one to tell you that they've made some changes. He's seen that defense, obviously every day, but they've made some changes like all good coaches do. He's got a good knowledge of their players. He's got a real knowledge of what they like to do in their program and how they like to set up their game thoughts, in terms of the entire football team. You've been at a place nine years, you probably know a little bit.”
Anyone that has watched Johnathan Gray over the past two weeks has noticed a different running back. His cuts have been like the J Gray of old, his burst seems quicker and his ability to make people miss has been eye-popping.
Watson thinks a big reason for this is that he is more confident in where he is coming back from his Achilles injury.
“I feel like he's very confident about where he's at coming off of his injury,” Watson said. “He's playing like he played last year. When I saw him on film last year, he made jump cuts that were explosive. He put a foot in the dirt, he could cut through a weak shoulder of a defender, and he was gone. It really happened for him on the touchdown run at Texas Tech because he made a move that was like wow, that's pretty cool.”
But Watson said even when he isn’t touching the ball his presence on the field is big enough to make a difference.
“For example, the last touchdown run [Johnathan Gray’s 15-yard TD run in the fourth quarter], he really created it because the West Virginia people believed he was carrying the football,” Watson said. “He did a really nice job of faking it, and Tyrone [Swoopes] did too, so it just opened up large inside seems. We use him not only to carry the ball, but also to set up other things off of those things we give him the football in.”
There is no doubt that the time away from the team during his suspension and then his injury hurt Johnson’s effectiveness with this offense. Watson said he needs to grow in the base offense as much as possible.
“He's been away from us for a while, so he's getting more assignments now,” Watson said. “I met with him today. We're going to have another package for him this week and keep putting him in it more and more.”
There was a pass-catching drill that Beck apparently exceeded in, so much so that Watson said he had the best hand-eye coordination of the entire group.
“At the NFL combine, there's a catch drill that they do that's a cross-field catch drill, and you'll fire about six balls at them and they have to rapid fire catch them,” he said. “They have to move because they're flying across the field. He had the best hand-eye coordination of the whole group. I started politicking right away. I ran up to Charlie and say 'Hey, 47 has got unbelievable hands, and he can run.'
“At that time, we were good at back, but we needed some depth at tight end. He had been a high school tight end, played the position, and he was really a perfect fit for what we'd like to do with our moving tight end. We've grown him, we've given him more significant time. The Texas Tech game was where he got his most time. That's the first time we felt like he had an intimate knowledge of what we were trying to do, and you could see him executing it during the week on film. He's been really good since. His confidence level has skyrocketed since that game.”
Beck hasn’t factored into the passing game yet but that should change moving forward. He’s a valuable asset who is improving every week as a blocker.
*****Longhorns 2015 QB commitment Zach Gentry's junior highlights
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