AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Tyrone Swoopes has been given one chance to run the Texas offense. He's been given two. Now he's getting a third.
Whether the senior can finally seize the opportunity will begin to be answered Saturday when Texas wraps spring practice with its annual scrimmage, where the Longhorns will also unveil the power-spread offense installed by new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert.
Texas courted Gilbert away from Tulsa with a three-year contract and an $850,000 annual salary. What's unsaid in the deal is that it will likely be the quarterbacks - Swoopes or someone else - whose play on the field next season will lead to enough victories to justify all of that.
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Coach Charlie Strong has said he is comfortable not naming a starter until the run up to the Sept. 4 season opener against Notre Dame. But he handed Swoopes the status as front-runner, even if just based on seniority, when spring practice began and that will bring some intense scrutiny from fans on Saturday.
And if things look shaky, expect some quick calls for freshman Shane Buechele to take over.
One of the top recruits in the country when he signed with Texas in 2013, Swoopes is 6-8 as a starter. After starting most of 2014, he lost the job to Jerrod Heard after the season-opener in 2015.
Swoopes seemed to have settled into an effective role as a change-of-pace backup before Heard was injured, and Swoopes got the start in a season-ending upset win over Baylor.
Heard's spring ended early with a sprained right throwing shoulder. That left more snaps for Swoopes and Buechele and for their duel to heat up.
''He's mature and much better now. He's going to get better. As you get older you have to get better,'' Strong said of Swoopes. ''You have to allow them to compete and let it play its way out. If it takes that we have to go into the fall camp and then pick a guy, then that's what we will do.''
Buechele had enrolled in the spring semester to maximize his chances for competing for the starting job next season.
''He is a baller. He came in, got acclimated quickly, and has jumped right straight into the battle,'' tight end Andrew Beck said.
All the quarterbacks have been challenged to master the speed of the no-huddle offense, which mirrors the one at high-scoring Baylor. Defensive tackle Poona Ford said he's been exhausted trying to keep up.
''It's tiring. There are some days where I find myself gassed, and I just try and get lined up,'' Ford said.