Tyrone Swoopes, Jerrod Heard Battling at QB

The ongoing saga surrounding the Longhorns' quarterback battle has been the hot topic throughout the off-season.

The competition between Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard will most certainly remain the primary focus throughout fall camp.

Quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson is confident someone will emerge as the clear-cut starter prior to the season opener against Notre Dame.

“I know it will get done by then. I have a good feel for where the guys are at right now. I thought Jerrod really came on in the spring. When he came on in the spring, and the lights kind of went on for him, I felt really good about where we were headed,” Watson said.

“Competition between those two guys has really made our offense better. Now they know the efficiency will give them the winning edge, so our offense gets more efficient and better. And they know they cannot turn over the ball. They have to be a good decision maker in the passing game and in the run game.”

It’s difficult to not over-analyze the first portion of Watson’s quote. Was this him saying Heard is the answer? Or is it simply the competition that makes him feel “really good” about where the team is headed?

When Charlie Strong spoke about the QBs on Thursday, he talked about Swoopes and then said, "my man Heard" when talking about his redshirt freshman QB.

Texas fans are so starved for winning QB play, they can drive themselves crazy trying to read tea leaves.

But there’s a solid chance we won’t receive a public answer to the starting QB question for a few weeks. Here’s what we do know about the state of the quarterback position:

1. Watson is looking for someone to win the team.

The phrase “winning the team” was used more times than I am willing to count during Thursday’s media day, but what exactly does that mean?

“Winning the team is by performance. It’s when everyone knows that when you walk out there, we’re going to win. That’s what all of the good quarterbacks do. With Teddy Bridgewater, we all knew we had a chance to win every ball game. It did not matter what happened in that game. That’s what it means to win the team. Winning the team means you have the confidence of the team,” Watson said.

“What I have seen from both of those guys is they have had a great summer working with Coach Moorer, working with our players and putting together 7-on-7s. They spent a good amount of time working in our development process, which is our quarterback school. We give them footage of me teaching the offense, and they have that information available to them all of the time. Those guys are always around the building and are always watching the film. I feel good about what their commitment is.”

2. Texas will play both quarterbacks in the season opener against Notre Dame.

Charlie Strong said the Longhorns will have two quarterbacks in the game plan in South Bend. This revelation immediately sparked questions about how the coaches will rotate Heard and Swoopes. Texas fans can rest assured; the coaches are not planning to run a two-quarterback system.

“I have always played the backup. It’s important to make sure your second guy is ready to play. It’s important to give them a series in the beginning of the season and finding a series sometime in the first half where they’re on the field. It serves a number of purposes,” Watson said.

“First, they are getting developed in a game situation, which is totally different than what you do in practice. And secondly, when that voice is in the huddle, it isn’t new to the unit. We did that with Teddy at Louisville and it worked out very well. It helped his development. So we will see how things work out when we get through camp who earns that starting job.”

3. Neither Tyrone Swoopes nor Jerrod Heard has been labeled as the starting quarterback, but the two are fully prepared to fight for the No. 1 spot.

Heard and Swoopes have different demeanors when addressing the media. Heard speaks with confidence and is not afraid to discuss his feelings about competing for the starting job.

“I think with me being such a competitive guy, it would help the team, period. That’s my goal. I want to be someone who is reliable and ready when the time comes. That’s the thing I am working on right now, just being the most reliable QB in the locker room,” Heard said.

“My job is to compete for (the starting) job. He (Swoopes) knows that I am trying to get his job. And that’s going to continue. You cannot be lagging at quarterback because there can only be one guy on the field and your spot can be taken at any time. Every time we’re in the film room or on the field, we’re still going at it, still competing because there’s no settling.”

Meanwhile, Swoopes keeps things close to the vest. But he understands he will have to put up a fight to hold on to the No. 1 spot.

“He (Heard) has always been there. It has always been a friendly competition. We both want to play, so we are doing everything we can and all we need to do to get on the field. … It doesn’t bother me. I don’t have a problem with competition. I think it’s fun and makes everything more exciting. I don’t have a problem with it,” Swoopes said of the competition with Heard.

“Nobody really wants to have their job taken so you have to do what you have to do to stay on the field. I feel like if you start worrying about other people, then you’re not really worried about yourself. I have been really working on me and working on myself and how to be better.”

4. Heard and Swoopes have a lot to prove.

Competition is essential, especially at the quarterback position. However, winning the starting role will take more than simply competing. Both guys have to prove they deserve to be on the field.

“I have to keep proving that I am getting better. This is a young team and a young squad. They want to know who’s going to be the guy of the future, and it’s my job to keep showing them that I am going to be that reliable guy for the entire time I am here,” Heard said.

“You have to be yourself. When guys get too far into the competition, they can get lost. Right now, there’s definitely competition, but you still have to lead those guys you are on the field with at that moment. You have to be that vocal leader and be that guy who's always around. Everyone has to know you are going to be reliable, and that will take you a long way.”

“You have to learn the system because if you know what you’re talking about, you can kind of coach up everybody else on what they need to know. So first learning the system, then when you do that you have to get out and encourage guys,” Swoopes said. “You have to learn the system and go out, execute and play. You can’t really think about what can go wrong. You just do what you know will go right.”

5. The quarterbacks have different opinions on if they should demand the job.

“I definitely have to demand it once I step on the field. If I wait until I become a starter it’s too late,” said Heard. “Every time I step out on the field, I have to show that I deserve to be on the field.”

“I don’t think it’s something you demand,” Swoopes said. “I think it’s something you have to earn through practice, fall camp and going out there earning it.”

Heard and Swoopes have a little less than a month to prove themselves and "win the team."

If Watson is correct, one of the two will emerge victorious at the conclusion of fall camp.

Until then, it will be the most-watched and talked-about position battle at Texas - only because it could determine the Longhorns' fate this season.




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