Redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard appears to have won the job after leading Texas past Rice.
Jerrod Heard didn’t find out he was starting until he took the field for warm ups.
Given the task of leading the team in the home opener, he didn’t waste any time getting the offense – and his career – moving.
Heard calmly took the team down field on its opening drive. When he found Armanti Foreman for a 32-yard touchdown, the play showed why he should be the starting quarterback going forward.
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Faced with a 3rd and 11, Heard took off, racing through the Owl defense for a 53-yard gain. A penalty brought some of the big gain back, but it showed a dimension to his game that Tyrone Swoopes doesn’t have – elusiveness. The offense could have used his running ability against Notre Dame.
Following the coaching shakeup earlier in the week, it only made sense to give Heard the start. Strong needed to see what the kid could do. Can he lead the team?
He certainly showed a knack for making big plays at the right time.
After Rice had erased a 21-0 deficit and pulled within a touchdown, all the early momentum the team had generated was lost. Rice was moving the ball with ease. Texas needed a big play.
On Texas’ first play of the 3rd quarter Heard lofted a deep pass in the direction of John Burt. Burt had gotten past his defender and caught the ball in stride and galloped in for a 69-yard touchdown reception. That re-energized the team and the crowd, something Charlie Strong was hoping Heard would provide.
“I felt like we needed to have us a spark, and then the spark that we needed to go with was Jerrod and just wanted him to go out and compete and give him that opportunity,” Strong said after the game.
Strong knew Heard would get the start, but kept it to himself until game day.
“Well, Jerrod had been just working hard and just felt like that he deserved the right to start. I didn’t tell him until before the game that he was going to be the starter, and I knew that he would be — that he was prepared all week long, because we gave them an equal number of reps. And so, I just knew that he would be ready to go play.”
Heard finished the day 4/7 for 120 yards and the two scores. He led the team with 96 yards rushing. Texas had the ball for roughly 16 minutes in the game, so we didn’t get to see much of the offense under Heard. He did a great job of protecting the ball. What we did see looks night and day from the offense under Swoopes. Heard looked comfortable running the offense, like it was his team. It’s a confidence Strong noticed going into this season.
“You think about it and last season I just don’t know if you could have got what you got now out of him, because when he just came in with a different attitude this year. More, I know I can go win the job, and I’m going to go win the job. And so I just think his attitude last season in comparison to this season is totally different.”
The competition gets more difficult next week when Cal comes to town. Heard will have to step up his game and put together a few sustained drives. But for a day, the redshirt freshman can bask in the limelight of winning his first career start.
The Jerrod Heard era has begun.