Texas freshman helping 'Horns get over Vince Young
Posted: Thursday November 9, 2006 12:38PM; Updated: Thursday November 9, 2006 1:42PM
Although he had to battle Jevan Snead to even earn Texas' starting job, Colt McCoy has quickly turned into a star.
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Monday afternoon, on the phone with Texas quarterback Colt McCoy:
"Colt, do you realize you have better passing statistics than both Troy Smith and Brady Quinn?"
"That's crazy," the redshirt freshman replies in his unmistakable Texas twang. "I wasn't aware of that."
"So what do you think about this talk about you being a Heisman candidate?"
"Aw, that's crazy," he says. "We've got a lot of other Heisman candidates on this team."
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you a Heisman candidate so improbable that neither he nor his school will even admit it's a possibility.
Said McCoy this week: "Troy Smith's already got that sewn up."
McCoy's own coach, Mack Brown, declines to endorse him. "I don't think a freshman should be up for the Heisman," said Brown.
Even the team's sports information director tried to steer me in another direction when I contacted him for this story. "We think [cornerback] Aaron Ross is our Heisman candidate," he said.
If Texas isn't going to beat the Colt McCoy for Heisman drum, I'm just going to have to do it myself. The numbers would be mind-boggling for any quarterback -- he's the nation's second-rated passer -- nevertheless one who played in his first college game just over two months ago: 69.1 percent completions, 2,051 yards, 27 touchdowns and four interceptions. Ohio State's Smith, the undisputed Heisman front-runner, has a lower completion percentage (66.7), slightly fewer yards (2,006) and touchdowns (22) and one less interception (three).
Of course, the two did face each other back on Sept. 9, and it wasn't even close. While Smith was 17-of-26 for 269 yards and two touchdowns, McCoy managed just 154 yards and threw a costly pick in the third quarter that helped the Buckeyes pull away, 24-7. Oh, but that was so long ago, back when McCoy was making just his second collegiate start and Texas' coaches were still handling him with kid gloves. What they and McCoy wouldn't give to re-play that game now that he's beaten Oklahoma, led comebacks against Nebraska and Texas Tech and torched Oklahoma State for 346 yards.
"We wouldn't have been as conservative as we were, that's for sure," said 'Horns offensive coordinator Greg Davis. "We went into the game with the idea that we were playing at home, just his second game, let's play it close to the vest and let him get his feet on the ground. There isn't any question that by the [Oct. 7] Oklahoma game, we were allowing him to do more."
So much more that, in the course of five weeks, McCoy has made one of the most dramatic transformations of any player in the country. For the first five games of the season, the youthful Tuscola, Texas, native was seen largely as a caretaker. There was no way he could possibly match the exploits of celebrated predecessor Vince Young, so why even try? Particularly when McCoy had two talented tailbacks (Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles) to hand off to and a group of decorated linemen (Lombardi finalist Justin Blalock, All-Big 12 veterans Kasey Studdard and Lyle Sendlein) for them to run behind.