The first domino has fallen in the offensive shake up. Now is the time to see what Jerrod Heard can do.
We are one week into the season and the Texas offense has itself a new play caller. The coaching move may come a little too late to reverse the course this offense is on. Still, since we are replacing an officer on the ship, why not swap out the motor, too?
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Give Jerrod Heard the start against Rice.
Let me preface my article by saying this is no knock on Tyrone Swoopes. The kid is doing everything right – working hard in practice, stepping up to be a leader on this team as well as handling the pressure that comes with being the quarterback at the University of Texas. For whatever reason he just isn’t getting it done on the field.
In business, employees that perform poorly on a regular basis get replaced. It doesn’t mean they are bad people; it’s simply a business decision for the betterment of the company.
That’s what needs to take place at Texas.
Rice will be no cake walk considering what we saw the offense do against Notre Dame. But, Rice is not Notre Dame. Not even close. So why not give Heard the start?
It’s the home opener. The crowd will be friendly (hopefully). The players should be re-energized following the coaching assignments change. Jonathan Gray will be the focal point of the offense – he has to be – so that will help the young signal caller. If Gray, D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren don’t combine for 35 plus touches the whole coaching staff should be shown the door. The running game is a young quarterback’s best friend so Texas must plan to run versus Rice, and run often. The Owls gave up 86 yards rushing in its victory over Wagner last week. Texas is certainly better than Wagner.
Let’s remember that Heard won two state championships at Denton Guyer. Swoopes, in comparison finished 1-9 his senior season at Whitewright. They were at opposite ends of the spectrum in high school. While you can throw out the high school stats once a player steps onto campus, Heard does have one advantage over Swoopes.
Heard ran a similar spread offense in high school. He showed flashes of what he can do during the spring game. He was outmatched against Notre Dame, but who wasn’t that day? It would have been nice to see him play the fourth quarter so the coaching staff – and the fans – could see what the future holds.
This is a young, but talented team that will have its growing pains this season. If Charlie Strong is willing to trust true freshman on the field, why not Heard? Let him take his lumps with the rest of the youngsters so the Longhorns are a better team in 2016. This is not a 9-10 win team right now. It can be next year if Heard has a chance to grow into the position.
Another reason to start Heard is competition.
Swoopes didn’t have the benefit of another quarterback pushing him last year – Heard was going to redshirt come hell or high water. Heard not only has the experienced Swoopes to contend with, but an impressive Kai Locksley knocking on the door. The coaching staff would prefer to redshirt Locksley, but my guess is Strong would play him if he thought he gave the team a chance to win. These are motivating forces for Heard. He wouldn’t be able to rest on his laurels and simply go through he motions.
The best programs in the country have multiple quarterbacks who could start – competition forces the best to rise to the top. Texas isn’t quite there yet with the likes of Ohio State or a Florida State. Next year Shane Buechele comes in and he will push for the starting job as a true freshman. This is what Texas has been missing for a number of years.
In the meantime, give Heard a crack at the job. We have seen what Swoopes is as a signal caller. It’s nothing special. He is not a championship-caliber quarterback. He would probably do just fine against Rice, but struggle with California, Oklahoma State and the rest of the schools on a very daunting stretch on the schedule. These will be games the offense will need to put points on the board. Swoopes hasn’t done that against the better competition on the schedule.
Strong appeased the fan base by replacing Shawn Watson with Jay Norvell as the play caller. Now he should take the next logical step and give Heard the start.
He has nothing to lose.