'Horns unhooked (cont.)
Posted: Thursday October 4, 2007 12:29PM; Updated: Thursday October 4, 2007 2:25PM
It would be way too simplistic to suggest the 'Horns are incapable of winning championships without a once-in-a-generation quarterback. For one thing, it takes far more than one player to field an elite team, and Brown's program has assembled no shortage of talent. (Three of Texas' past four classes have rated among Rivals.com's top 10.)
Furthermore, Texas' own rival, Oklahoma, has won four Big 12 titles and one national championship behind a series of different signal-callers -- Josh Heupel (2000), Nate Hybl ('02), Jason White (''04) and Paul Thompson ('06) -- none of whom went on to start for an NFL franchise like Young.
But for all the oohs-and-ahhs he garnered for his running ability or his touch on the deep ball, Young always drew more praise from those within the program for his leadership ability. It's the kind of intangible quality championship teams possess -- and which both disciplinary issues and the rugged on-field play indicate may be lacking from the current 'Horns.
"Not everyone is a leader," Young told the Morning News. "Not everyone wants that kind of pressure. Not everyone wants to be the one to tell a star guy on your football team, 'You need to slow down.' "
Who is that guy on the current Texas team? For most teams, it's the quarterback, but Texas' QB, Colt McCoy, is only a sophomore. His surprising success last season (2,570 yards, an NCAA freshman-record 29 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions) was a major reason the 'Horns were able to race to a 9-1 start (they lost their last two regular-season games, to K-State and Texas A&M, when McCoy got hurt), while the presence of accomplished veterans like cornerback Aaron Ross, offensive lineman Justin Blalock and defensive end Tim Crowder ensured McCoy didn't necessarily need to morph into a Vince-like leader overnight.
Heading into this season, however, McCoy, a fixture on many preseason Heisman lists, became the unquestioned face of the current 'Horns. During a spring visit to Austin, the visibly bulked-up quarterback talked excitedly about his new role on the team (he initiated offseason passing drills with his receivers as far back as January) and the dreamy prospects for Texas' talent-laden offense. "There's no reason why we shouldn't be great," he said.
So far, that hasn't been the case. McCoy, the nation's eighth-rated passer last season, has fallen all the way to 62nd. His completion percentage has dropped from 68.2 percent to 63.4, he's already thrown more interceptions (nine) than he did all of last season, and, adding injury to insult, he was briefly knocked out of the K-State game and later pulled for good after exhibiting symptoms of a concussion.