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Texas sticking with Tyrone Swoopes over Jerrod Heard at quarterback

Strong is more concerned about getting the entire offense clicking together than playing the true freshman.

Ronald Martinez

The saying goes that the most popular player on campus is always the back-up quarterback.

During times of struggle, that's certainly the case and there's no question that the Texas Longhorns are struggling right now, especially at quarterback after sophomore Tyrone Swoopes turned in an inaccurate performance against the Baylor Bears on Saturday that also included two interceptions.

His record as a starter now sits at 1-3 and there's a segment of the fan base that wants to see freshman Jerrod Heard get his opportunity.

But on Monday, head coach Charlie Strong offered his support for his starter, saying that Swoopes will remain in that role.

"It's not so much he may not be in the equation as a player," Strong said of Heard. "You never rule that out. It's just he hasn't had an opportunity because you look at us offensively, you look at Swoopes and it's so much all being thrown on the quarterback. You look at him, and it's his second year.  So even last year he didn't play enough, so you still have a young quarterback that you're still developing. It is going to be a game-by-game development for Swoopes as we continue on."

And indeed, Swoopes likely benefited little from wasting his redshirt, the same scenario that could face Heard if he played and wasn't able to supplant the current starter.

When asked about what Heard can't do that is keeping him off the field, Strong deflected the question somewhat.

"I don't know if it's fair to throw him in there right now and just say what he can't do," he said. "We just haven't had a chance yet to even talk about even putting him out there in that picture yet."

Last week, play caller Shawn Watson indicated that Texas wouldn't burn the redshirt of Heard carelessly. For instance, if Swoopes had to leave the game for a play because his helmet came off, walk-on junior college transfer Logan Vinklarek would enter the game for that play.

Right now, the focus for Strong and his offensive coaches is on improving other aspects of the offense to more properly evaluate Swoopes.

"We got to get other guys to make plays for us," said Strong. "Everybody is talking about our offensive line. We did have a really good Saturday (against Baylor) protecting the quarterback. We just got to make the throws, and you have to have wide receivers make some catches, and take some pressure off the quarterback with the running back running the ball."

Once Texas starts seeing further improvement in those areas, things will get easier for Swoopes and if he still struggles at that point, whether because of the general nervousness that afflicted him against Baylor or the inaccuracy that was his other major blight, then it will become apparent that he's not the answer.

And given the track record of Strong giving playing time to walk ons early in his coaching career at Texas, it would seem to stand to reason that if Heard was the better player, he would have already played.

For now, Heard sits as he tries to learn the offense and Swoopes attempts to firmly entrench himself amid the wreckage.