Charlie Strong entered his first year at Texas with high expectations. The Longhorns, however, finished with a losing record (6-7) and lost their final two games to TCU and Arkansas by a combined score of 79-17.
And yet, not all hope is lost for the 54-year-old Strong.
“I believe he’s on the right track,” Austin American-Statesman sports columnist Cedric Golden said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I believe he got rid of some bad apples last year and spent a lot of his early tenure as a head coach basically cleaning house. Now that he’s starting to get the kind of character guys that he wants in the program, I believe that it’s time now for them to take that next step. It’s always tough to change a culture of a program. I think Mack Brown did a great job, but there were a few people in the program who were entitled and Charlie wanted to distance himself from those people. Now that he has his kind of people in play – they’re still looking for a quarterback – I think really good things can happen here.”
Yes, as long as they find a quarterback. Tyrone Swoopes completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 2,409 yards, 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season.
“I’m not a believer in Tyrone Swoopes,” Golden said. “I think he’s a really good kid, a nice kid and he has some ability. But I just don’t know that he’s the signature guy – the guy to walk into a huddle and go, ‘Don’t worry about it, guys. I got this. Jump on my back and I’ll lead you.’ He doesn’t have that Vince Young trait, that Colt McCoy trait where you just know it’s going to be all right because this guy’s on your team. I just don’t see it in him. I could be wrong, but I just see him being just an average college quarterback and not one that’s a leader of men.”
Golden is a little more optimistic about redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, who is more athletic and elusive than Swoopes.
“My thing is this,” Golden said. “If you have a young quarterback, it really helps to have some athleticism because when a play breaks down you can still call upon your God-given gifts to make things happen – and too often Tyrone Swoopes wasn’t able to do that. He’s not fleet of foot. He has a huge arm, but he’s not very accurate.”
At 6-4, 248 pounds, Swoopes rushed 108 times for just 262 yards (2.4 yards per rush) with four touchdowns last season.
Heard could likely eclipse those numbers – by midseason.
“As far as Jerrod Heard is concerned, I just think he has bigger upside,” Golden said. “He can make plays off schedule – those kind of plays that a defense can’t scheme for. He’s the kind of guy that probably would give defensive coordinators more to think about than a Tyrone Swoopes.”
Whatever the Longhorns decide, they’ll need to do it soon. Texas opens the season at Notre Dame on Sept. 5.