The Texas Longhorns are becoming a highly effective short-yardage team thanks to junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and the 18 Wheeler package, which accounted for all three touchdowns and the game-clinching score on Saturday against the Kansas State Wildcats.
Here they are in all their glory:
Swoopes finished with seven carries for 50 yards and three touchdowns as he continued to account for a large portion of the Texas scoring offense and energize the team with his play.
When redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard took over the starting role against Rice, head coach Charlie Stront sat down with his former starter and told him not to hang his head, promising to give Swoopes an opportunity in more than the short-yardage package.
A third straight game excelling in that role helped position Texas to use Swoopes in longer down-and-distance situations to close out the game and Swoopes responded.
"Coach, just give me some clock," Swoopes had told Strong.
Even though Swoopes entered the drive with the odd stat line of four carries for -2 yards and two touchdowns, he was able to capitalize on that clock afforded to him by his head coach with 52 yards on his final three carries.
"You watch him at the end of that game and him running behind his pads and he's just so strong and so physical," said Strong. "Only thing we needed was a lead blocker, which we had."
Indeed, with tight ends and H-backs like sophomore Andrew Beck, junior Caleb Bluiett, and senior Alex De La Torre all playing at a high level right now, using Swoopes situationally in situations outside of short yardage could make tremendous sense for an offense that would prefer to limit the number of hits taken by Heard.
What's remarkable about the drive is that play caller Jay Norvell said that the team installed those wrinkles Saturday morning before the game -- the team hadn't even practiced them with that personnel prior to the fourth quarter.
Personnel changes with the 18 Wheeler package also open up possibilities in the passing game that the Longhorns could take advantage of in coming weeks.
"It's all about us just making sure that we do expand that package, because he can throw a ball, which now it puts a lot pressure on defense because they're not so quick to load the box when you've got a guy who can go extend it, especially without our receivers on the field," Strong said.
So look for the 18 Wheeler to head to Ames with the intent of once again providing outcome-changing production from the 6'4, 243-pound Swoopes.