Tyrone Swoopes is long overdue for a role in the Texas Longhorns offense.
The people have not just spoken, they've screamed and cried and wailed to an almost pathetic degree. They want to see Tyrone Swoopes, and so should the rest of the Texas football program.
Even before Texas' season came off the rails in a 38-13 loss to Oklahoma State, the demand for Swoopes was there. It started when he turned his first snap of the spring game into a 21-yard run, and it has only gotten stronger since.
Is it Swoopes' undeniable resemblance to Vince Young? The true freshman fits the bill at 6'4", 245 pounds with the same long stride that the legendary quarterback used to burn Big 12 defenders from 2003 to 2005.
Or could it be the fans' fatigue with current backup Case McCoy? The senior's inevitable, predictable tumble is in full swing after his three-interception performance against the Pokes. That's eight picks in his last four games.
Regardless of the reasoning, each Swoopes sighting is rewarded with raucous enthusiasm. Though he has only accounted for 58 total yards in his four appearances, simple handoffs are met with cheers.
Tyrone Swoopes in at QB. The few people left here are clapping.— Max Olson (@max_olson) November 16, 2013
But on Saturday, Swoopes gave them something to really get excited about.
With the game well out of hand, Mack Brown elected to give Swoopes the final series of the game against OSU. His true freshman responded with 17 passing yards and 22 rushing yards, engineering a 55-yard drive that was cut off by the end of regulation.
Those numbers aren't impressive on their own, but how Swoopes got them was. He went 3-for-4 to get the 17 passing yards, throwing three tight spirals that were right on the hands of his receivers. The incompletion was on a go route to Mike Davis that all but hit the pylon, which is great placement on a deep sideline route.
Granted, this was a small sample size produced when the opposing defense could not have cared less. However, it does show some improvement after Swoopes airmailed two passes against Kansas.
It also provides the opportunity to remind fans and critics alike that, as an early enrollee, Swoopes made a push for McCoy's job as the backup in the spring. Had he not suffered a hamstring injury that cost him most of fall camp, he could already have an expanded role.
Instead, we are stuck waiting for the day Swoopes is granted anything but garbage duty. Meanwhile, the Longhorns head into two must-have games against Texas Tech and Baylor offenses that can pour it on.
The 'Horns need somebody who can add an explosive element to this team and help control the clock. In lieu of Johnathan Gray, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles, Swoopes gives the Longhorns a matchup nightmare under center who can do just that.
Tim Tebow's role as a true freshman at Florida comes to mind, but Texas has plenty of models for comparison within its own conference. Kansas State's Daniel Sams has averaged 96.5 yards per game in tandem with thrower Jake Waters.
The 'Horns could also decide to simply ride Swoopes in a run-heavy game plan. Oklahoma did it with Trevor Knight in Saturday's win over Iowa State, running the athletic quarterback 10 times for 123 yards and a touchdown. Charlie Weis did much the same with Montell Cozart under center, calling 54 rushes for 315 yards in a 31-19 win over West Virginia.
Basically, using Swoopes' inexperience as a passer as a reason to keep him on the sideline is shortsighted. Cozart, Sams and Knight have combined to complete just 53 percent of their passes but were able to lead their teams to victory because of their athleticism.
And if Swoopes continues to show improvement as a passer, then Texas could end up with something great under center.
The bottom line is that the true freshman can help in any role. Give the fans what they want, and let him make a difference in these final two games.