Texas' QB play could be a problem in 2015
(Note: This article has been updated to reflect the news that Tyrone Swoopes will be Texas’ starting QB to begin the 2015 season.)
The Texas Longhorns are searching for the next great quarterback to play in burnt orange, but it probably won’t be 2015 starter Tyrone Swoopes, based on what we saw last year.
Swoopes was under pressure for the starting job from redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, and while he was able to hold him off for the Longhorns’ season opener against Notre Dame, he will need to take a significant step forward from his 2014 performance to remain the starter for too long.
In Swoopes’ defense, the Texas offensive line was not conducive to fine quarterback play last season. David Ash was struggling behind it before Swoopes took over due to injury in 2014, and there is no doubt that poor line play will hamstring even the best quarterbacks.
That doesn’t tell the whole story for Swoopes, however, who has some pretty ugly tape to his name even when throwing from clean pockets. His numbers across the board took a hit last year, dropping from 65.3 to 41.0 in completion percentage when pressured, along with a corresponding dip in yards per attempt and passer rating. And even when he wasn’t pressured, he still had a significant negative grade on those clean-pocket throws, and threw six interceptions to just seven touchdowns.
Swoopes is going to need the offensive line to improve in front of him. Kennedy Estelle was the only member of the unit to grade positively a year ago, and that came from just 57 snaps against North Texas. At the moment Swoopes has some built-in excuses, but he still needs to improve significantly when the line does keep him clean.