The loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys to end the six-game conference wining streak for the Texas Longhorns notably took the air out of a Texas football program that had been riding rather high after the escape from Morgantown and resounding wins against TCU and Oklahoma.
With the Longhorns now having little control over their destiny in the Big 12 conference title race and head coach Mack Brown having probably lost his only slim chance to save his job, the final two games have lost some of their significance, leading some to look forward to next season and the possible quarterback situation moving forward.
At the centerpiece of that discussion, obviously, is much-discussed freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes.
On Monday, head coach Mack Brown said that the coaches have not second-guessed their decision to burn Swoopes' redshirt despite failing to take advantage of several opportunities to give the Whitewright product more playing time, most notably at the end of blowouts against Kansas and Oklahoma State.
According to the Texas head coach, playing Swoopes was "worth it whether he plays another snap or not" and said that it wasn't a waste to get him on the field for one drive each against TCU, Kansas, and Oklahoma State.
Certainly pure spin mode there from Brown, whose days as head coach in Austin are numbered in weeks at this point. However, the question isn't whether the snaps that Swoopes has gotten are beneficial, but how much more beneficial getting more snaps would be for the big, strong freshman.
And whether Swoopes can help either help Texas win one or both of the final two regular-season games or should play just to get him the experience that he may need next season.
Brown even said that Swoopes has been showing enough in practice to make him a viable candidate to compete with David Ash in the spring if Ash does indeed manage to return from his lingering concussion issues, though apparently Swoopes hadn't shown enough prior to the Oklahoma State game to make him a viable candidate to replace Case McCoy early in the fourth quarter after McCoy had thrown his third interception of the day.
Then, to take this whole silly game to another level, Brown said that Swoopes "may even play a little bit on Thursday," potentially a little bit of gamesmanship on a day when Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury said that his own starter will be a game-time decision.
But Brown should know one thing -- if he's throwing stuff like that out at press conferences, fans are going to jump on that when Swoopes inevitably doesn't see much, if any playing time on Thanksgiving. Expect to see Brown sitting there in the post-game press conference or Monday press conference and give the same tired excuse about how the flow of the game wasn't right to play the back up.
Of course, maybe Brown will actually surprise everyone and use the running ability of Swoopes against a Texas Tech defense that is the worst in the Big 12 during conference play and has given up 4.85 yards per carry during that time, a number that includes strong performances against Kansas (1.43 yards per carry) and Iowa State (3.67 yards per carry). Through the current four-game losing streak, that number has jumped to 5.74 yards per carry as opponents have gained more than 1,100 yards combined in those contests.
As a result, even with those early successes, the Red Raiders now rank No. 92 nationally in rush S&P+ -- there's clearly an opportunity here for the coaching staff to actually get Swoopes some playing time with McCoy having thrown more interceptions on the season than touchdown passes with a significant downward trend in his decision-making ability over the last several games.
Using Swoopes in the red zone, where Texas has struggled mightily this season, would be one potential way to use him as a runner.
That being said, engage optimism at your own risk, Texas fans.