His rise to Heisman contention has been as riveting as any storyline there is in college football, and Tyrone Swoopes has taken notice.
“Looking at him tells me I can do it as well,” Swoopes said on Monday.
He looked flustered, uninspired, and, well, the same, which could be most worrisome of all in completing 20-of-34 passes for 200 yards and four interceptions.
“He has to play," Charlie Strong said. "You can’t turn the football over. You can’t get down with his demeanor. The only way we are going to get scores is you have to happen. You have to play well. He didn’t make it happen tonight. Just too many turnovers.”
Give TCU’s defense a ton of credit. The Horned Frogs’ defensive front dominated a Texas offensive line that had played its best football this month. Swoopes was under fire all night.
But he made a lot of self-inflicted mistakes that you just wouldn’t expect a quarterback to make 12 games into the season, whether this is his first season as a starting quarterback or third.
He was so bad that Strong said the coaching staff thought about taking him out. But for who? Texas wasn't going to burn Jerrod Heard's shirt in the regular season finale. Strong said the team just needed to settle him down, and wasn’t able to.
“You always have to recruit and recruit at every position. You have to recruit good players,” Strong said when asked why Swoopes hasn’t shown the type of growth you’d expect someone to at this point in the season. “Tonight wasn’t his night. When you play a good team like this you have to play well. You have to protect him, backs gotta run hard, wide receivers have to make the catches also.”
Take a look at what Jeremy Clark, the managing editor at HornedFrogBlitz.com, had to say about how Boykin has gotten to this level of play and tell me where in there you see Swoopes making massive strides:
“First, he's become more of a polished passer and has great pocket awareness. The previous two seasons Boykin would rely heavily on his arm strength to complete tough passes that he really had no business throwing. Now, you don't see him throwing into double or sometimes even triple coverage as he did in the past. His pocket awareness is night and day; he does an excellent job of going through all of progressions and if he does have to escape the pocket he’s done a great job of keeping his eyes downfield. A lot of his improvement stems from the great coaching he’s received from Sonny Cumbie but overall I think this particular offense just fits his style much better.”
Going through all of his progressions.
When he escapes the pocket he does a great job of keeping his eyes down field.
These are all things Swoopes has struggled to juggle this season, and his growth in any of those categories has been stagnant at best.
I’m not saying Boykin’s path will be Swoopes’, or is even one Swoopes will venture to travel. But these are all facets of playing the position that he must improve, and he hasn’t shown considerable growth in any of them.
Something else that’s red flag worthy is how lackluster he’s played against better competition.
The sophomore’s three best games this season by rating (and by eyeball) have come in wins against Iowa State (145.2), Texas Tech (141.8) and OSU (170.4). Those are three of the worst teams in the Big 12 this season with a combined record of 10-22.
He has sputtered against the Big 12’s upper echelon, combining to go 29-for-59 for 250 yards and two interceptions against Baylor and Kansas State. He was only 3-of-15 for 36 yards in the second half against West Virginia.
While I understand that Shawn Watson has already said that the quarterback position, like all other offensive positions, will be up for grabs after this season, Swoopes, at the very least, had an opportunity to do himself a world of good on Thursday.
Instead he only raised more red flags as Texas heads into bowl preparation.
And now, more so than ever, I’m not sure who starts at Notre Dame on Sept. 5, 2015.
Can Swoopes show enough growth from now until then to keep his job?
Will Jerrod Heard show the type of improvement to, at the very least, get early playing time next season and grow into that starting roll?
Is next season’s starting QB even on campus yet?
No one can be sure at this point.
Not even with a crystal ball.
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