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Posted: Sunday September 20, 2009 12:32AM; Updated: Sunday September 20, 2009 12:39AM
Stewart Mandel Stewart Mandel >
INSIDE COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Texas has its issues, but a win over Texas Tech remains noteworthy

Story Highlights

Texas didnh't always play like the nation's No. 2 team in beating Texas Tech

QB Colt McCoy, even on a sluggish night, completed 70.6 percent of his passes

Texas Tech is steadily improving its talent level and is here to stay

Washington (3) USC

24

Texas.jpg
Wide receiver Dan Bucker and the Longhorns did just enough to put away Texas Tech.
AP

Texas never really seemed in danger of losing Saturday night's game to Texas Tech, yet anyone who watched the Longhorns' 34-24 victory will understandably wonder whether they are really the second-best team in the country.

Colt McCoy did not look remotely like his Heisman-contending self from a year ago. Much like he did in his first two games against Lousiana-Monroe and Wyoming, the senior star started off slowly (Texas' only first-half touchdown came on Jordan Shipley's punt return) -- only this time he never heated up. Facing a surprising amount of pressure from the Red Raiders' injury-depleted defensive line, McCoy threw more interceptions (two) than touchdowns (one) and finished with just 200 passing yards.

His Texas Tech counterpart, Taylor Potts, had far more success moving the chains, completing a staggering 45 of 61 throws for 417 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Texas' defense clamped down early in the fourth quarter, with Earl Thomas intercepting Potts on one series and Sergio Kindle drilling him and forcing a fumble on the next, setting up McCoy's lone touchdown pass that put Texas up 31-17. But even then, Potts came back downfield and threw a 22-yard TD to stay within striking distance.

The 'Horns finally put their nemesis away on a Hunter Lawrence field goal with 5:47 remaining.

Should Texas fans be concerned with Saturday night's performance? Yes, but no more so than those of nearly every other team in the country right now.

Three weeks in, there aren't a whole lot of teams out there that look like a finished product. No. 1 Florida hardly played it's "A" game Saturday against mediocre Tennessee. USC lost to Washington. Texas faced much stiffer competition Saturday -- an opponent that went 11-2 last season -- and, despite some outward flaws, came away with a victory.

"We weren't playing well and consistent like we should," McCoy said of Texas' offense. "Give our defense credit. They played lights out."

Indeed, there are far worse fates than allowing 24 points to Texas Tech. While many expected the Red Raiders to fade back into oblivion post-Michael Crabtree, the reality is they're not going away. Mike Leach has upgraded the program's talent considerably. The strong-armed Potts, in particular, looked a plenty worthy successor to Graham Harrell and all those stat-happy Tech QBs before him. His mistakes resulted only when the 'Horns defense came after him.

As for McCoy, it's clear he hasn't yet found the comfort zone in which he spent nearly all of last season. He looked uncharacteristically indecisive at times, perhaps still looking for a go-to second receiver to complement best bud Shipley.

The good news is, even a quiet McCoy still completed 70.6 percent of his passes. Even more encouraging: Texas has found a budding star runner in freshman Tre Newton, who carried 19 times for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Texas has its issues, just like most everyone else. In the 'Horns' case, however, they already have one of their biggest conference games out of the way.

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