When I think 18-wheeler, the first thing that comes to mind is a large truck that’s usually in my way on the highway. When the Texas Longhorns think 18-wheeler, they think about their 6’4, 250-pound senior quarterback, #18 Tyrone Swoopes. They even made shirts.
The matchup between Oklahoma State and Texas will mark the one-year anniversary of Texas’ 18-Wheeler Package. The Longhorns have a different offensive coordinator in Sterlin Gilbert than they had last year, and Longhorn receiver (former quarterback) Jerrod Heard had not yet given the package its name, but it is still just as effective and maybe even more effective as it’s been in the past.
In last year’s matchup, Swoopes had three carries for 35 yards and a touchdown. So far this season, he has 21 carries for 88 yards and 3 touchdowns. Additionally, he’s thrown 8 passes, completing five for 66 yards.
But, Swoopes isn’t the only factor in the package. Running backs D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren are beasts in the backfield. Each back weighs around 250 pounds. Having to account for the possibility of Swoopes keeping the ball, keeping an eye on the “Smash Brothers”, and having the possibility of a pass makes the 18-Wheeler Package very dangerous in short yardage and red zone situations. I mean just take a look at the size of these guys on the field:
Great information from @Espn. Swooped the lightest person on the field in the 18 Wheeler package at 250 lbs #HookEm pic.twitter.com/ukkaiibHiC— Joe Cook (@josephcook89) September 19, 2016
So, how exactly does the package work. As I mentioned above, it operates as a zone read play. Depending on how Swoopes reads the defense, he has a couple of options.
He can keep the ball, as seen below. Swoopes sees an opening he likes in the middle of the field, fakes the hand-off to Foreman and he’s off to the races. It was a good decision by Swoopes as the defensive back was coming in hot off the end and would’ve been there to meet Foreman if he had taken the hand-off.
Although, I highly doubt the 190-pound corner for Notre Dame would’ve been able to take down the 250-pound Foreman, but that’s besides the point.
Alternatively, he can let the running back do the work. Here you see Foreman with a solid gain up the middle.
The Longhorns primarily like to use this package to pick up short yardage or in the red zone, but that’s not the only time they will use it, as seen in the two videos above. But, it is definitely most dangerous when the Texas offense gets into scoring position. It even won them the game in overtime against Notre Dame.
The 18-Wheeler package has been very effective at times with Swoopes going for 53 yards rushing and three touchdowns against Notre Dame. But, it’s also be fairly ineffective at times as Swoopes wasn’t able to score in the red zone against UTEP and when starting quarterback Shane Buechele went out of the Cal game for a period of time with injury, Swoopes didn’t show any signs of being a reliable backup. Swoopes has only thrown eight passes this season, and he already has one bad pass that led to an interception.
Glenn Spencer is aware of the physicality that comes along with the Texas offense and the 18-Wheeler Package and I’m hoping he will have the Cowboys ready for it.
#OKstate DC Glenn Spencer said this is the most physical Texas offense he's seen in his time here.— Mark Cooper (@mark_cooperjr) September 26, 2016
Oklahoma State fans are very familiar with the two quarterback system, with J.W. Walsh and Mason Rudolph sharing the duties last season (via Pistols Firing Blog).
It can be beneficial at times and infuriating at times. It can score you points and mess up the offense’s momentum. Hopefully the Cowboys are able to slow down the Texas rushing attack, as they did against Baylor, and not allow Swoopes and the “Smash Brothers” to rack up yards and touchdowns on Saturday.