Dec 29, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Tyrone Swoopes (18) stiff arms Arkansas Razorbacks linebacker Brooks Ellis (51) during the first quarter in the 2014 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The theme across this offense is obvious. The Texas offense is young and inexperienced, and the receiving corp represents that perfectly. The Longhorns’ top receivers last season were Jaxon Shipley, who had 59 receptions for 577 yards and a touchdown, and John Harris, who hauled in 68 passed for 1051 yards and seven touchdowns. Both of these receivers are gone, and the next best receiver statistically is Marcus Johnson, who caught just 27 passes. This season Johnson will be the go-to receiver and the leader of the receiving corp.
Alongside Johnson, sophomore Armanti Foreman and freshman John Burt are expecting to start on the outside and in the slot. Both are young and lack experience, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t have the potential to be dangerous receivers. Two years ago, Harris caught just five passes, and last season he led the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Both Foreman and Burt stand right around six feet and weigh about 180 pounds each, so they won’t be receivers that Texas will rely on for height advantages, but they’ll both be expected to stretch the field and allow space for the running game between the trenches.
Notre Dame’s secondary is much more talented and experienced, but they can’t take these receivers too lightly.
Do I even have to say it? Tyrone Swoopes had a rough season last year completing just 58% of his passes for 2,409 yards and 13 touchdowns along with 11 interceptions. Swoopes came in for David Ash, who was injured during the beginning of the season, and remained the starter for the rest of the year. Looking at his game logs, Swoopes was pretty inconsistent throwing for over 300 yards one week and then passing for just over 100 yards another week (week 6 to week 7).
Texas won’t beat Notre Dame if Swoopes decides to have a 100-yard performance, but if he can put the pieces together, he can be one of the most dangerous quarterbacks the Irish play this season. In addition to being able to pass the ball well, Swoopes can make plays with his legs. He rushed for 262 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground.
The overall theme of this Texas team is clear. They’re young, and they lack experience. However, you can never count out Texas especially if they’re coached by Charlie Strong. There’s a reason why this game is a primetime game, so we can’t expect for the Irish to blow the Long Horns out in the first game of the season, but I don’t think Texas can play up to par with the talent Notre Dame has. Thankfully, we’ll be able to put all the speculation and predictions aside and watch it all played out on the field in just a few days.