The Texas Longhorns (7-3, 6-1) have been handcuffed offensively ever since quarterback David Ash sustained a concussion that will subsequently have forced him out for the rest of the season, per Max Olsen of ESPN.com.
Case McCoy has been an adequate replacement, but the senior has fallen well short of what Ash was able to do from an execution standpoint.
Now with two games remaining this season, two countdowns begin.
On the one hand, McCoy's snaps are inevitably dwindling at Texas, but on the other, true freshman Tyrone Swoopes is waiting in the wings.
The Longhorns have not exactly handled Swoopes' first season with care. Texas burned Swoopes' redshirt earlier this year, but if the young quarterback does not get anymore looks down the stretch, the end hardly justify the means.
Barring anymore newcomers, Texas will have three quarterbacks on scholarship going into 2014: Ash (Sr.), Swoopes (Soph.) and newcomer Jerrod Heard.
Plain and simple, the Longhorns can ill afford to have such inexperience behind their starting signal-caller. And that is exactly where Texas stands going into its Thanksgiving Night matchup against Texas Tech.
Swoopes has been a project from day one, but now it is time to showcase the progress made.
Taking off the cuffs
There is no question that Swoopes is unready to take the controls and run with it, and a full-fledged 60-minute performance is not the expectation. But there is something to be said about giving the freshman some meaningful looks just to see what happens.
Swoopes has to have better experience, not for this season, but the next.
The former Whitewright, Texas, standout will be expected to see the field at some point next year, so it would behoove the 'Horns greatly to get their prized quarterback some honest action in a very meaningful game.
Whether Swoopes' presence can help the Longhorns against the Red Raiders Thursday night is not the question at hand. Preparing for the future, however, should be the dominant concern.
Simply getting the freshman an adequate set of plays and packages is a step in the right direction, and Texas needs all the help it can get at quarterback.
Offenses tend to enjoy wrinkles in the playbooks and execution, and there may be no better wrinkle than a dual-threat quarterback.
Texas has experienced firsthand the consequences—both good and bad—of a running threat at quarterback.
Vince Young and Colt McCoy were two of the best dual-threats to roam the position during their generations, and the results were absolutely telling.
On the other side, Texas was torched by running quarterbacks in BYU's Taysom Hill, Ole Miss' Bo Wallace and OSU's Clint Chelf just this season, which proves just how valuable those wrinkles can be on offense.
Swoopes may be far behind in the passing department, but there are few who cannot attest to Swoopes' outstanding athleticism and mobility in the open field.
Would it not make sense to have Texas at least try to incorporate Swoopes into some option plays?
Wrinkles, man. Wrinkles.
The Running Game
Building off of those darn wrinkles, Swoopes' dual-threat presence could tremendously lessen the pressure on Texas' ground game, which will have its absences Thursday night.
Johnathan Gray and Daje Johnson are out for Texas (the former for the season), which means a very vanilla running game looks to be in the works with a couple of one-cut-and-go backs in Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.
The read-option works—believe it or not—and if Swoopes can bring out his inner VY and execute, there is no reason to believe that Texas's running game won't benefit from an additional ground threat.
The Bottom Line
Swoopes is every bit a part of the future as Ash has been and will be, but it is time to see just what Texas has in its quarterback cupboards and let the freshman have a go at the second-worst run defense in the Big 12.