McCoy solidifies spot as Texas’ starting quarterback

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Case McCoy surveys the field during Texas’ 49-20 over UCLA Saturday. The sophomore quarterback made his first start against the Bruins, going 12-for-15 while throwing two touchdowns, both on third down.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Case McCoy sure didn’t look like a guy making his first career start.

His stat line was great. The sophomore quarterback completed 12 of his 15 passes, had two touchdown throws, and has yet to throw an interception this season.

More importantly, he helped Texas make a statement that it couldn’t make last year. The Longhorns dominated UCLA after the Bruins had dominated them last season. Texas ran for a whopping 284 yards while it had failed to establish a formidable ground game in 2010. And with McCoy behind center, they’re getting the much-needed great quarterback play they didn’t get a year ago.

If McCoy’s performance against BYU earned him the starting quarterback job, his play against UCLA helped him keep it. McCoy orchestrated a 13-point comeback win over the Cougars and the spot became his to lose. But it’s clear now that McCoy has played an entire game, that the job is one that he won’t give up.

It’s also no coincidence that the Longhorns got off to their fastest start yet with McCoy taking the first snaps this season.
“The last two games we haven’t gotten out to a fast start,” McCoy said. “It was really important. That’s what we focused on all week long.”

McCoy’s movement in the pocket was also terrific. On his first touchdown toss of the game, a 45-yard first-quarter strike to D.J. Grant, the junior tight end was wide open. But McCoy had to step up in the pocket and dodge a couple defenders before he could make the easy throw.

Even more impressive was McCoy’s scramble on his 25-yard pass to Mike Davis in the second quarter. McCoy had to elude nearly half a dozen Bruins before breaking free near UCLA’s 45-yard line and finding Davis near the goal line. On the next play, McCoy hit Grant for another score, this time from two yards out.

“Once I got back there, I realized I was probably out of field goal position, so I had to do something,” McCoy said. “That’s one thing that, at the quarterback position, you have to be able to make plays every now and then when things don’t go right. It happened. Mike found me, I hit him, and it turned into a touchdown drive.”

Both of those big plays came on third down, a situation where McCoy has thrived. Since he took over as starting quarterback, Texas has converted on 13 of its 23 third-down plays with McCoy throwing 145 yards and a touchdown on 6-of-9 passing in those scenarios. The player he replaced, Garrett Gilbert, has gone 2-of-11 with 22 yards and an interception on third down.

Maybe McCoy learned a thing or two from his older brother, who made a few guys miss when he moved around in and out of the pocket during his time at Texas. Colt McCoy ran for 1,571 yards during his Longhorns career and was even the team’s leading rusher as a junior when he ran for 734 yards in 2008. The younger McCoy only took off once for two yards against UCLA but was not sacked either.

“Case reminds me so much of his brother when he’s back there moving around like that,” Grant said. “For a young guy like that making his first start to be able to play like that is amazing.”

Grant was sensational against UCLA, making six catches, three of them for touchdowns — a performance good enough to earn him honors as CFPA National Tight End Performer of the Week. Coupled with true freshman Malcolm Brown’s 110-yard performance, the Longhorns discovered that they have the most legitimate threat at running back and tight end since the days of Jamaal Charles and Jermichael Finley in 2007.

“D.J. [Grant] showed up well tonight,” McCoy said. “If a tight end can block and get open, he’s going to be a big player in our offense.”

After the way McCoy played in Pasadena Saturday, it’s clear that the last time Texas had a quarterback as good as this one was when another McCoy was behind center.

Printed on September 20, 2011 as: Case proves to be the real McCoy