Like it or not, Tyrone Swoopes' redshirt has been burned. Now it is on the Texas Longhorns to find a way to utilize their gifted backup quarterback, which shouldn't be a trying task.
Mack Brown came under fire last week after inserting Swoopes against TCU for the final series. The move can be explained by the uncertainty surrounding David Ash, whose season is still in doubt according to Brown himself.
The fact of the matter is that Swoopes is the immediate backup to current starter Case McCoy. There is nobody else for Texas to trot out if McCoy goes down, so the freshman has to be ready to go with his team still in the Big 12 hunt.
Even if McCoy stays healthy, there is still a great opportunity for Texas to utilize Swoopes' unique athletic gifts. After all, quarterbacks that are 6'4", 245 pounds with legitimate long speed don't grow on trees.
While the younger McCoy brother has played well as Texas' starter, his flaws are becoming apparent. He has five picks in his last three games and has been struggling with his downfield accuracy.
This is what you expect from the senior, who is still the best passer on the team. He is unorthodox and often maddening, but the team responds to his leadership, which has the Longhorns still undefeated in conference play.
What McCoy doesn't give Texas is a threat to run the ball. He has lost 10 yards on 15 rushing attempts, whereas Ash had 152 yards before he went down.
This is where Swoopes could find a nice role as a Wildcat or short-yardage quarterback. He flashed his ability in such a role against Kansas, taking of one his carries 18 yards before hammering the Jayhawk defender that tried to corral him.
Would a freshman quarterback succeed in such a role? Ask the 2006 BCS champion Florida Gators, which ran Tim Tebow 89 times for 469 yards and eight touchdowns. Tebow threw just 33 passes that year, with senior Chris Leak handling most other downs.
Texas could take the same approach with Swoopes, who is 20 pounds heavier than Tebow was as a freshman. He remains a project as a passer due to accuracy issues, but his size and speed give him an athletic advantage over almost everyone on the field.
Swoopes' frame also bears a comparison to another SEC quarterback whose size and speed made him a terror in the running game. Auburn's Cam Newton stood just two inches taller and was only five pounds heavier than the Longhorn freshman during his 2010 Heisman campaign. And Texas could take a page out of Auburn's playbook to get Swoopes rolling.
As Chris B. Brown explains, Auburn used an inverted option to get their speedy backs to the edge and use Newton's rare size to punish the interior of the defense. Texas has the personnel and requisite speed to turn Swoopes loose in a similar fashion.
However the 'Horns do it, involving Swoopes in the game plan gives them a better chance to win. Especially because Baylor, Texas' opponent in its regular-season finale, struggled so mightily to contain Kansas State's Daniel Sams. Though the Bears eventually won 35-25, they had no solution for the mobile Sams on his 199-yard, three-touchdown day.
The redshirt is gone, so there is no point in leaving Swoopes on the sideline if he can help this team win. He has the talent, and he deserves the chance to prove it.