Strong’s switch turns Swoopes from QB failure to TD maker (VIDEO)

Texas backup quarterback Tyrone Swoopes scored three rushing touchdowns in Saturday's win against Kansas State.
Brendan Maloney/Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Jerrod Heard calls the package, "18-wheeler," and the way Tyrone Swoopes keeps running over defenders to get into the end zone, it seems to make perfect sense.

In fact, next time you’re standing around the office water cooler, ask your buddies which Texas player leads the team in touchdowns. Unless they’re an ardent Longhorns followers, they’ll surely never guess that Swoopes’ seven TDs — five rushing and two passing — is tops. 

The red-zone package the Texas Longhorns coaches devised for their demoted quarterback might go down as the feel-good story of the 2015 season. For much of his time as the Longhorns’ starting quarterback last season and through this year’s awful opener at Notre Dame, Swoopes was criticized and vilified, and unfortunately for him, his performances were never able to turn the tide.

After finally being displaced by redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard heading into Week 2, most figured Texas had seen the last of big No. 18. 

But that’s not how Texas coach Charlie Strong says he ever saw it when he decided to go with Heard.

"Tyrone is such a solid person," Strong said Monday during his weekly press conference. "When we were going to make the change, I sat down with him and I said, ‘We’re still going to have a package for you. It’s not like you’re going to go stand over there and hold a clipboard. … I want you to stay engaged. More than anything since you played in all the games, you can help Jerrod.’ He’s done a great job." 

Swoopes had all three of the Longhorns’ touchdowns Saturday in the 23-9 victory over Kansas State that gave Texas consecutive wins for the first time this season. Strong and offensive play-caller Jay Norvell, who was familiar utilizing a goal-line power QB package at Oklahoma with Blake Bell, go to Swoopes nearly ever time Texas gets the ball inside the 10-yard line.

At 6-foot-4, 244 pounds, the junior is a load to bring down, and he’s made a habit of crashing through tackles and crossing the goal line. 

The role seems to suit him. As the starter running the offense, Swoopes was often a hesitant runner, unsure of his decision-making. The "18-wheeler" package simply calls for him to the snap and plow ahead. And plow he has.

His touchdown runs against K-State went 1 yard and 2 yards on his first two touchdowns. On the third, he stepped out of a tackle and avoided others for a 10-yard score.

"When you see him out there," Heard said last week, "you know he’s going to break it."

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