AUSTIN (AP) – Quarterback play was a big problem for Texas last season and remains the biggest issue that needs to be resolved.
The Longhorns opened training camp Thursday with the focus on last season’s starter, Tyrone Swoopes, and his battle for the job with redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard.
And coach Charlie Strong promised both will play in the opener at Notre Dame.
“Whichever guy wins the team will be the quarterback. I don’t know who’s going to start, but both of them will play in the Notre Dame game,” Strong said.
But Strong insisted it won’t be a “musical chairs” situation of constantly rotating the two as Texas. One of them should emerge as the clear starter for the game, Strong said, but both will get on the field at some point.
Swoopes, who signed with Texas as one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school, struggled all last season as the Longhorns finished 6-7. Two of his worst games came at the end when he had five turnovers against TCU and Texas managed just 59 total yards in a bowl loss to Arkansas.
Swoopes passed for 13 touchdowns with 11 interceptions and had several key fumbles. Yet he remains confident he’s the guy to help Texas return to prominence in the Big 12. The Longhorns haven’t won the league crown since 2009 and are not expected to contend this year..
“I know I’m a lot better than what I played last year,” Swoopes said.
Heard may get a boost from Texas’ revamped offense, that will rely less on the power running game Texas couldn’t establish last year and move to more of a spread. Heard won two state high school championships running a spread offense and Texas would love to duplicate the success TCU had with a similar change last season.
Strong’s first season began with a series of suspensions after a rash of arrests and team rules violations. This one began with a misdemeanor theft charge against reserve offensive lineman Terrell Cuney. One of Strong’s “core values” for his team is no stealing.
Cuney will be allowed to practice but said “he’s got some things to work on,” suggesting he will be disciplined.
Also Thursday, offensive line coach Joe Wickline refused to discuss Oklahoma State’s breach-of-contract lawsuit demanding that he pay his former employer nearly $600,000 for taking a job with the Longhorns in which he is not the primary play caller.
Strong, Wickline and assistant coach Shawn Watson have all testified under oath that Wickline and Watson share play-calling duties at Texas.
Watson said Thursday that he and Wickline will still collaborate calling plays this season.
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