AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Charlie Strong era began at Texas with a shaky performance at quarterback and few questions answered about just how quickly the Longhorns can rebound in the Big 12 under their new coach.
With next season's presumed starter David Ash not playing because of a foot injury, Tyrone Swoopes took all the snaps with the first-team offense in the Longhorns' annual spring scrimmage. Swoopes rallied from a poor start to finish with 229 yards and three touchdowns against the second-team defense. But he likely did little to establish himself as the potential top-flight quarterback the Longhorns have lacked for several seasons if Ash's injury problems persist.
Ash missed most of last season with concussion symptoms but had been cleared to return in the spring. His injury left Swoopes as the only scholarship quarterback available for the scrimmage.
Strong had planned to play the starters against each other, but instead opted to pit the first-team offense against the second-team defense to help give Swoopes a confidence boost. But Swoopes threw an interception on his first attempt and was just 7 of 17 passing until a desperation heave at the end of the first half turned into a touchdown catch by Daje Johnson.
Swoopes was better in the second half, throwing touchdowns to Malcolm Brown and Jaxon Shipley. Strong said he liked that Swoopes rebounded from the poor start, but acknowledged he hasn't gotten the play he wanted at quarterback this spring.
"We're going to have to get better there, whether it's David or Swoopes or someone else," Strong said.
The Longhorns signed one quarterback in their 2014 recruiting class, Jerrod Heard, who will arrive on campus in June. Texas is also courting USC transfer Max Wittek, who has yet to announce his destination.
Texas hasn't had consistent play there since Colt McCoy was injured in the 2010 national championship game against Alabama. Since then, the Longhorns haven't won more than nine games in a season or won the Big 12.
Strong was hired in January to replace Mack Brown and turn around that trend of mediocrity. After 15 days of spring practice, Strong said the team still has a lot of work to do.