What was expected to be a quiet, run of the mill, Saturday in college football, turned into an exciting series of upsets. Unranked Boston College shocked the world by knocking off No.9 USC 37-31. Unraked Eastern Carolina beat No.17 Virginia Tech 28-21, and unranked Virginia took down No. 21 Louisville 23-21.
Meantime, number 12 UCLA was on the brink of being upset by the unranked Texas Longhorns. But, despite missing starting quarterback Brett Hundley, they survived. Ironically, the match up became a battle of backup quarterbacks; UCLA’s Jerry Neuheisel was able to beat Tyrone Swoopes and the Longhorns 20-17. Even with the Texas loss, there was plenty to be optimistic about, especially considering the 41-7 drubbing by BYU two weeks ago.
In his second straight game at starting quarterback, Swoopes looked well composed and showed more confidence in the pocket. Also, he was able to demonstrate his intangibles outside the pocket by scrambling, making tacklers miss and creating off balanced plays. His size, accuracy, and mobility continues to be impressive. Swoopes completed 24-of-34 passes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, and managed the game superbly with zero turnovers.
Yes, there is still a lot of maturing left to do for the second year QB out of Whitewright, Texas. But, it was only the second start of his career and the confidence will increase with more playing time. This seems more and more likely as David Ash’s concussion symptoms make him a continued question mark.
On the flip side, the game in Arlington likely would not have been as close if UCLA wasn’t missing starting quarterback, and Heisman contender, Brett Hundley. It very well could have been another blowout, especially considering the Longhorns have proven vulnerable against dual threat quarterbacks.
But, let’s not sell the Horn’s short. Many Longhorns fans should be more than pleased with the performance Saturday night. Texas may not be in contention for the title this year, or even the next year or two. But, look for them to battle every night and make teams earn their wins. Charlie Strong is the right man for the job because he will change the mentality of the program.
For Charlie Strong’s Texas Longhorns, the national championship wasn’t in the picture this year. In the offseason Strong was straightforward about what the future held for the Longhorns upcoming season.
“We have everything available, and I don’t know why we can’t be successful. There’s no reason for us not to be. Now, I can’t tell you how soon it’s going to be. Don’t hold me on that. Don’t say, ‘Ooh, Coach said next year we’ll be in the national…’ We will not be in the national championship game.”
This was a bold statement from first year head coach, who walked into one of the highest paid, and most scrutinized jobs in the sport. But, Strong would later clarify his comments during an interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas:
“We still have a long ways to go now. We still have a lot of work. You look at it, having the chance to get through spring ball. You look at it, just talent-wise with what we have right now. It’s a lot of work. To get to that game, you have to have a really good football team, and I just don’t know how good we are right now.”
Strong is attempting to change a culture in Austin. After sixteen years under Mack Brown, that task isn’t going to happen overnight. It takes nurturing and patience to get to the philosophy Strong is trying to instill. But, if Longhorns fans can be patient, I know, a tough thing to do, Strong’s formula for success will undoubtedly pay off. Just give it time.