AUSTIN, Texas (AP) After a rough first season with the Texas Longhorns, coach Charlie Strong is still in search of a quarterback.
He hopes to find one for 2015 starting this week when spring practice begins Wednesday.
Last year’s starter, junior Tyrone Swoopes, and redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard will be given ”equal reps” in their duel for the starting job, Strong said Monday. But he also left the door open to playing both next season if they earn it.
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The Longhorns open the 2015 season Sept. 5 at Notre Dame.
Strong also sent a message to Heard and anyone else trying to unseat a starter from last season: if you want a position, take it.
”Don’t ever think because a guy started last year means he can’t be unseated. If you work hard enough, you will beat him out. I don’t play favorites,” Strong said.
Swoopes started 12 games in 2014 after David Ash went down with a head injury suffered in the season opener. But he was erratic the entire season and bore much of the criticism from fans for an offense that struggled badly all season. Swoopes finished with 2,409 yards passing with 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions with a completion rate under 60 percent.
The worst came at the end when Swoopes had five turnovers in a crushing home loss to TCU. Then the Longhorns managed just 59 total yards in a blowout loss to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl in Houston. Strong chose not to play Heard rather than burn his redshirt season.
The two-game skid sent Texas to a 6-7 finish in Strong’s first season, the program’s second losing season in five years. Strong met with his team Sunday night as they returned from spring break.
”When you signed on here, you signed on to win championships. That hasn’t happened,” Strong told them.
Texas hasn’t won a Big 12 title since 2009.
”We’re no longer the big dog. When will this dog rise back up?” Strong said.
While he’s trying to rebuild his players’ confidence, Strong said he’s not afraid to remind them of how bad things finished last year.
”I know (they) get tired of questions because I get tired of them. What’s wrong with the program?” Strong said. ”I love to burn them with it …. We got embarrassed. That’s what burns me more than anything.”
Texas will finish spring drills with its annual intrasquad scrimmage on April 18.