The topic of whether or not the Texas Longhorns would redshirt freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has been a topic of conversation ever since he enrolled, with the win over the TCU Horned Frogs providing the definitive answer, as the coaches inserted Swoopes late in the fourth quarter.
It was a decision that the staff had appeared to make in the opposite direction after the Whitewright product warmed up on the sidelines during the Iowa State game, but never entered the contest.
However, David Ash has already been declared out for the Kansas game next week because he is still suffering from the symptoms associated with his head injury against BYU, so the coaches decided to play Swoopes in order to get him game experience in case of an injury to current starter Case McCoy.
Besides the ramifications regarding Ash, burning the redshirt on Swoopes was also a strong sign that they either finally had enough confidence in Swoopes playing or were worried enough about having a back-up quarterback yet to take a college snap to force their decision, not to mention a vote of little confidence in redshirt freshman Jalen Overstreet, who recently made the move back to quarterback after practicing at running back since the start of fall camp.
But were there any takeaways from the game debut of the formerly heralded and then maligned signal caller?
The 6'4, 245-pounder saw the field for eight plays, the last of which was a kneel down deep in TCU territory, while five of the plays were straight hand offs to Joe Bergeron. Swoopes did flash his quickness along the sideline on a play-action roll out in picking up eight yards. His other run, on a similar play, went for a three-yard loss.
The word from coaches and players after the game was that they wanted Swoopes to have a chance to get hit, but he certainly wasn't in a position to attempt many passes with the game well out of reach at that point.
Moving forward, with the increasing likelihood that Swoopes may have to be the guy next year if the football career of Ash is over, upcoming games against lowly Kansas and struggling West Virginia now take a slightly different tone at the quarterback position.
In fact, while it was understandable that the coaches wanted to slowly ease Swoopes into game situations by not allowing him to do much more than hand the ball off and get hit once or twice against TCU, the next two games provide important opportunities for Swoopes to play more meaningful snaps before the outcome of the game has truly been decided.
The coaches would probably feel more comfortable if the team could continue the trend over the last two games of getting off to faster starts, but that shouldn't keep Swoopes on the bench -- now that the decision has been made to play him this year, he needs to play, preferably on the third series against Kansas no matter what has happened to that point.
West Virginia is a slightly different equation because it will be on the road and while the Mountaineers are struggling right now, they have been a tough opponent at times in Morgantown, as evidenced by the upset win over Oklahoma State. Playing Swoopes may depend more on game situations that week, which also represents the last potential opportunity to get him on the field with a significant lead, as the games after that all project as difficult contests to win with separation.
So while it might not have been ideal to play Swoopes, the decision to get him game reps makes sense with Ash looking increasingly unlikely to play again this year and the timing sets up well to give him chances to grow over the next two weeks, and also gives the staff a chance to start seeing what they might have with the potential future of the quarterback position at Texas.