For Texas Longhorns fans hungrily craving more appearances from freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, there's probably no amount of playing time that would be too much with Big 12 championship hopes knocked about and reduced by Oklahoma State's dominating win Saturday at DKR.
Sure, it doesn't make sense to put forth arguments to completely hand the offense over to the raw quarterback who was struggling to complete passes and win games for Whitewright at this time last year.
And since head coach Mack Brown and play caller Major Applewhite seem intent on keeping Swoopes out of the game when he could feasibly be playing, Texas fans are left to vent their frustrations in late-game situations.
Or, in this case, go back and latch on to every brief moment where Swoopes has flashed the running ability that has led some extreme optimists to make the inevitable Vince Young comparisons.
It was in the spring game that Swoopes first sent hearts aflutter across the Burnt Orange Nation in a cameo appearance with the second-team offense against the first-team defense. Live for contact, a rarity in any type of practice, scrimmage, or spring game, the 6'4, 245-pounder had a unique opportunity to showcase his improvisational running ability.
The visible explosiveness isn't there, but Swoopes is a big, tough runner at 245 pounds who still has some sneaky speed because he covers so much ground with every stride.
And what happens when 245 pounds with a head of steam collides with 180 pounds? Bad things for the 180-pounder.
For a young running quarterback who will be better off pulling the ball down and running if the first read isn't there for some time until he develops a more refined ability to progress through his reads and deliver the ball with accuracy, decisively taking off quickly is an excellent attribute for Swoopes.
As is the ability to truck smaller defenders -- and at 245 pounds, most of them are smaller, especially once Swoopes gets beyond the line of scrimmage.
Beyond the quick decisions to vacate the pocket in the absence of an easy throw, Swoopes will also have to make use of that big frame to escape trouble in the backfield.
There's something to be said here for the Texas linebackers not really being ready to hit a quarterback in a situation like this after always being told not to, but Swoopes is rather VY-esque here with his ability to get big and strong to shake off the tackles of two smaller players.
No play in burnt orange for Swoopes was more impressive, however, than his run against Kansas that went for 18 yards.
Besides the ability to turn the corner remarkably sharply for a player of his size, that's some serious man strength from Swoopes, who still managed to pick up nearly two yards after being turned around at the end of this run. How hard is he going to be to tackle once he spends another year in the Texas strength and conditioning program after not doing much lifting in high school?
The running highlights aren't just from the Orange and White game either, as the big quarterback picked up eight yards on his first collegiate carry against TCU and gained 12 on the play above, which looked like a called quarterback run.
As for the passing ability, the struggles in the Kansas game illustrate just how far Swoopes has to go in terms of getting the ball past underneath defenders in the short passing game that will probably remain his strength for some time, as well as the accuracy that still isn't quite there after an airmailed throw on third down.
The Oklahoma State contest was more positive in that regard. Swoopes wasn't exactly stretching the field in that game, either, but he converted a 3rd and 3 with a nice strike to Mike Davis and also completed two other passes.
And if there's one thing that defines Swoopes and his progress over the last several years, it's the ability to come back after making several inexplicable throws and hit with a superlative, on-target effort to provide another tantalizing glimpse of his potential if he can put it all together.
It's something that ESPN analyst and Elite 11 coach Trent Dilfer saw from Swoopes during the Elite 11 process.
"The raw tools stood out, but on top of that we saw a guy that the brighter the lights, the better he performed," Dilfer told Burnt Orange Nation back in April. "The more we cluttered his mind, the more he could quiet it -- no moment was too big. If you have that and you're coachable, we can do the rest."
There were definitely some struggles for Swoopes, however. In the drill settings at the Fort Worth NIke Camp and at the start of camp in the finals, Swoopes wasn't always sharp, but as always, he was able to rebound.
"He came out the next day and dealt -- he didn't make the same mistake twice," said Dilfer. "There was huge development from Tyrone that week, even though he had never read a playbook and didn't know how to call a play, so think about how much his brain was moving."
Dilfer is a strong believer in the power of mechanics and the power of a perfect throw, so the staff worked with Swoopes on putting a better trajectory on the football since his arm and throws were so flat, a consequence of a release that is quite similar to the low delivery of Vince Young.
At the end of it all, Dilfer believed that Swoopes can do everything else so well that if he can hone his mechanics and his delivery, he could be nearly unstoppable -- for Dilfer, poor mechanics are the most limiting factor for a quarterback.
LHN - TX Football - Tyrone Swoopes Special (via longhornnetwork)
In assessing David Ash and where he was in the 2011 season, all the missed reps during the spring, summer, and early fall that set back his development were a big part of that narrative. For Swoopes, those missed reps and learning opportunities happened in high school because of his commitments to track and basketball and the lack of a Whitewright 7-on-7 team.
Compared to quarterbacks like Connor Brewer who had the time and the resources to travel around the country to camps, combines, and to work with the best quarterback coaches available, Swoopes is an absolute neophyte -- a quarterback baby developmentally still trying to learn to walk.
The hamstring injury early in fall camp didn't help either, as those lost reps were also critical to his development and a not insignificant factor in his lack of playing time earlier in the season.
Still far from a complete package, the allure of Swoopes' ability is still as strong as it ever was, and probably stronger now than it was just before he enrolled at Texas, when many were questioning his ability to stay at the quarterback position.
Now, with so much uncertainty there moving forward for the Longhorns, there's no question that Swoopes will stay at the position he played in high school and there have already been flashes on the college field of his running ability.
Flashes bright enough to catch the eye of Texas fans always looking for the next shiny object.