Texas has not permanently parked its 18-Wheeler.
Fifty-seven Longhorns appeared in the participation report for Texas’ 24-20 loss to West Virginia this past Saturday, and senior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was not one of them. Swoopes is freshman Shane Buechele’s back-up, but he has still been used as a short-yardage rushing option.
Yet, Texas kept a suited-up Swoopes on the sidelines on Saturday for 4th-and-1 and 4th-and-2 plays that running back D’Onta Foreman converted. Buechele also ran for a 10-yard score in the game. Two days later, Texas coach Charlie Strong said the 18-Wheeler package — a set of plays that drew its nickname from Swoopes’ jersey number — remained in the playbook.
“It isn’t shelved,” Strong said. “Sterlin (Gilbert) and I were even talking about that, and he said there were probably one or two times we probably could have went with it. It isn’t shelved, you’ll see the 18-Wheeler package.”
Swoopes is averaging 3.2 yards per carry during his senior year, and he has scored on seven of his 50 attempts. A three-touchdown performance against Notre Dame helped Swoopes earn a share of this season’s first Big 12 offensive player of the week award.
The 18-Wheeler package has been both lauded and lambasted, though. Swoopes has scored twice in his last five games, and his only pass during that span was negated by a penalty. The ineffectiveness and predictability of plays featuring Swoopes — as well as the decision to rely on him instead of Foreman in some situations — led to criticism of Gilbert, the team’s offensive coordinator.