Tyrone Swoopes will find himself on a lot of highlight reels after Texas’ upset win over No. 10 Notre Dame on Sunday night.
The senior quarterback scored three rushing touchdowns on the night, with the final one being the finishing play of the thrilling victory — a moment for Texas fans to remember.
But the burnt orange-clad crowd fixed its eyes on a different quarterback for most of the season opener.
Freshman Shane Buechele led the Texas offense onto the field for its first possession against the Irish. He’s the first true freshman quarterback to start for the Longhorns since Bobby Layne in 1944.
Texas hasn’t had a quarterback start in every game from freshman year through senior year since Colt McCoy — who was a redshirt freshman — from 2006–09. Both Layne’s and McCoy’s numbers are retired.
“I still have a little adrenaline,” Buechele said. “I haven’t really thought about the whole thing, I’ve kind of just been running around, but it was definitely a lot of fun being able to go out there and play.”
And it appears the freshman will play for a long time on the 40 Acres. Though he still has over 50 games to play and 44 to win before he matches McCoy’s legendary numbers at Texas, he’s off to a good start. He finished the game with 16 completions for 280 yards and two touchdowns through the air, along with a touchdown on the ground.
Buechele started his collegiate career with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with his first touchdown pass. He found junior receiver Armanti Foreman on a 19-yard strike that sent 102,315 people into a frenzy.
“Sometimes there’s a player that comes through that’s a special player,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “And [Buechele’s] one of those players.”
But the freshman’s debut didn’t come without growing pains.
Buechele tossed a costly interception late in the third quarter, and Notre Dame capitalized with a touchdown — pulling within three points of Texas after being down by 17.
However, Buechele later made up for his mistake while leading Texas on an nine-play, 68-yard drive to tie the game with under six minutes left.
Buechele will also remind Longhorn fans of McCoy’s humility. The latter was never shy to credit others for helping him obtain one of his record-setting 45 wins at Texas. And Buechele was quick to thank a fellow quarterback after his first victory.
“[Tyrone’s] a great guy, and he’s a great quarterback,” Buechele said of Swoopes. “We couldn’t win the game without [Tyrone].”
Swoopes entered the contest for the first time on Texas’ fourth possession of the game. He set the tone for the Longhorns’ rushing attack, amassing 30 yards on five carries as Texas went on to score and take its first lead, 14-7.
But it was Buechele who scored with a one-yard quarterback sneak on that drive. And it’s Buechele who will set up many more drives for Texas this season as the team’s primary quarterback.
Sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson said he wasn’t surprised about Buechele’s performance and raved about the quarterback’s upside. If Jefferson is right, Buechele may be on his way to a path similar to McCoy’s.
“I knew that kid has a lot of talent,” Jefferson said. “He still has a lot more potential. I’m very proud of him. He stepped up to the plate. He did a lot better than I did last year, because he impacted this whole team.”