In his fifth career start, Texas quarterback Tyrone Swoopes stepped onto the biggest stage he’s seen and produced the biggest game of his young career.
However, for the fourth time in five years, Texas walked off the field at the Cotton Bowl plagued by mistakes, falling to Oklahoma 31-26 despite Swoopes’ offensive talent.
Swoopes, a Whitewright native, tallied a career-high 334 yards passing, the most allowed by Oklahoma against Texas in the Bob Stoops era. He also ran for 50 yards and a touchdown.
“Today, I just tried to stay in there a little bit longer,” Swoopes said. “I had some more confidence, so I made more throws I wouldn’t have made before today.”
Swoopes, who was coming off his worst start of the season last week against Baylor, showed drastic improvement from his earlier starts this season. Despite the intense atmosphere surrounding the Red River Showdown, he showed confidence and poise, especially under pressure.
“I see this [Swoopes] in practice,” said Texas assistant head coach for offense Shawn Watson. “Ty took a major step today because last week he wasn’t satisfied and I wasn’t either.
“I had a simple message for him this week. I said, ‘Listen, we are going to prepare you in every situation known to man, them defensively, situational football. So when you arrive on Saturday, you just go out and compete.’ ”
However, even with a defense that held the Sooners to just 29 yards in the first half, Texas was unable to push past Oklahoma, which ended with 232 yards of offense.
In a familiar turn of events, the Texas offense hurt itself with mistakes and penalties. In the first half alone, the Longhorns committed five false start penalties and had a holding call that took away a 73-yard run by Swoopes.
“We have to execute and we didn’t,” Texas coach Charlie Strong said. “Tyrone plays just as well as everyone around him plays. But it has to be a combination of both. We have to be just as productive in the rushing game and the passing game.”
Swoopes now looks to build off his strong showing as he heads into his sixth career start Saturdayagainst Iowa State. As he continues to improve, his team hopes the offense can start putting more points on the board.
“Once you get your quarterback going, it’s all about rhythm,” aid Longhorns receiver John Harris, a fifth-year senior having a breakout season. “Once you get into a rhythm as an offense, then you’re clicking.”
Wide receiver trio
After failing to produce a touchdown through three quarters last week against Baylor, Texas’ offense, especially its wide receivers, showed improvement in Dallas.
The Longhorns had three wideouts with more than 90 yards receiving against the Sooners. Senior Jaxon Shipley led Texas with 115 yards on nine catches, while Marcus Johnson had 93 yards on seven catches.
Harris had 90 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions.
Kicker Nick Rose made both of his field goal attempts, connecting from 28 and 20 yards, the Longhorns’ special teams continued to struggle overall against the Sooners.
For the second week in a row, the Longhorns gave up a long return off the kicking game for a touchdown and a shift in momentum. Against Baylor, the Bears scored on a 62-yard return of a blocked field goal.
Oklahoma’s Alex Ross returned two kicks for 121 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown.