Jevan Snead

Case McCoy, like his older brother, began his career at Texas as a backup before beating out a more highly-touted quarterback to win the starting job.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

These McCoys sure love proving people wrong.

Colt did it time and time again during his time in Austin, winning a starting quarterback job he wasn’t supposed to win, having a freshman season he wasn’t supposed to have, piecing together a bounce-back junior year we didn’t think he was capable of.

And now it’s Case’s turn to turn doubters into believers.

Surprise, surprise.

Who thought, coming into this season, that the youngest McCoy would emerge as Texas’ best quarterback? Wasn’t he the guy with insufficient arm strength and mobility rivaled only by the South Mall statues? Garrett Gilbert was the quarterback with the rocket arm and David Ash was the mobile, make-things-happen one, right?

Wrong. Again.

Colt beat out Jevan Snead in 2006, in a rather surprising move. After all, Snead was the No. 3 quarterback in his class. McCoy was 15th, behind names like Rob Schoenhoft, Demenic Natale and Harrison Beck.

Who? Exactly.

Colt beat out Snead and then threw for 29 touchdowns his freshman year. The rest, as they say, is history.

But we didn’t think his younger brother could do the same. Or at least, I didn’t. Not with the quarterbacks around him.

He wasn’t even the “best” (according to the recruiting pundits) that Texas brought in 2010. Per the ratings, that’d be Connor Wood, Rivals’ No. 3 quarterback and current clipboard-carrier for the Colorado Buffaloes. McCoy — get this — was Rivals’ 24th-best quarterback.

McCoy beating out Wood for the backup spot last season and then proving himself better than Gilbert (who, by the way, wears jersey No. 7 just like Snead did) is proof of two things:

First, recruiting sites can’t always be trusted. Second, don’t ever discount anybody with “McCoy” on the back of their jersey.

This season began with Gilbert atop the depth chart, followed by Case and then Ash. But after the first game against Rice, in which Gilbert played well and Ash came in for a specialized package, it seemed McCoy would be the forgotten man. He could back Gilbert up, but he couldn’t run like Ash could — and he wasn’t being eased into action as Ash was.

We all know what happened against Brigham Young, where McCoy and Ash tag-teamed the Cougars. They were listed as co-starters against UCLA. McCoy was to be the game manager, Ash the instant offense.

So we thought. Should have listened to co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite last week when he warned of typecasting the quarterbacks.

“[The media] always try to draw polarization,” Applewhite said. “One guy is hot, one guy is cold. One guy is black, one guy is white. Obviously, one of them may do something a little bit better than the other, but they’re not polar opposites.”

Case quickly shrugged off the notion that he didn’t have the arms or legs to be the next special Texas quarterback, finding D.J. Grant for a long touchdown — there’s the arm — while rolling to his right — there’s the legs — in the first quarter. More than a few times he scrambled left and right throughout the pocket only to find his downfield receiver. He only had three incompletions.

Two months ago, I wrote that Texas needed Gilbert to have a big year or else the team might be in for another losing season. I just didn’t think Case, or anybody else, had it in them.

I was wrong — by a long shot.

Those damn McCoys.

Printed on September 20, 2011 as: Flying under radar, exceeding expectations run in McCoy family

(Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staff

If conventional wisdom tells us that when a team has two good quarterbacks it doesn’t have any, what happens if a team has four?

The million dollar question surrounding the Longhorns fall camp is obviously, “Who will be their starting quarterback?”

Coaches are taking their time answering the question and are hesitant to indicate any separation between the field generals, even with the season opener just eight days away. Although it’s not official yet, junior Garrett Gilbert will likely be the starter. Gilbert, last year’s starting quarterback, has steadily improved this offseason, as evidenced by his performance in last Friday’s scrimmage.

“I thought he had a clean scrimmage,” said co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite. “He took care of the ball really well. He made some really good decisions in the red zone. He had some formations here and there that he straightened out.”

That scrimmage saw two quarterbacks throw touchdown passes. Gilbert found senior tailback Cody Johnson in the end zone on a short toss while Case McCoy hit freshman Jaxon Shipley off his back foot for a score. McCoy, a sophomore, is in a similar situation as his older brother when he first arrived on the 40 Acres. Colt McCoy was once an unheralded redshirt freshman who was expected to backup Jevan Snead, a more highly touted quarterback, before he won the job and eventually won a NCAA-record 45 games. Five years later, Case is giving Gilbert a run for his money.

“As a coach, you want to have to make the most difficult decision on who’s going to be the starter because you’re splitting hairs and that means you’ve got a pretty good team,” said Bryan Harsin, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Another guy who’s making the decision difficult is David Ash. The true freshman from Belton put up gaudy numbers in high school (3,400 yards, 41 touchdowns) and enrolled early so he could participate in spring workouts. Ash was also a first-team all-district punter as a high school senior but he won’t be involved in the kicking game unless he makes it on the two-deep.

With the way Ash has impressed coaches this offseason, that’s a legitimate possibility.

“[David Ash]’s done a great job,” Applewhite said. “He’s a physical specimen. He’s a big kid. He’s very strong and has a natural feel to him about the position. He’s done really well.”

The fourth and final candidate to win the starting quarterback job is redshirt freshman Connor Wood, who seems to be on the outside looking in. There have been rumors throughout the offseason that Wood was thinking about transferring. It may not be an awful choice considering the history Texas quarterbacks have after they transfer. Snead and G.J. Kinne struggled to see the field while playing for the Longhorns but went on to have incredibly successful college careers elsewhere. Snead threw for more than 5,000 yards while going 18-8 as a starter for Mississippi. Kinne led Tulsa to a 10-3 record last year and has accumulated 6,382 yards and 51 touchdowns over the last two seasons.

Even with the way McCoy, Ash and Wood have played this offseason, it’s disturbing that Gilbert hasn’t clinched the starting job considering that his trio of challengers have combined for one pass attempt – an incompletion by Case McCoy in the fourth quarter against Rice last season. Gilbert, after all, is the one who lofted two touchdown passes to Jordan Shipley in a national title game two years ago. He’s the one who brought Texas within a field goal in that contest despite facing a defense that featured three future first-round picks. However, he’s also the one who started all 12 games last season, won just five of them, and threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Now, he’s got a clean slate.

“You’ve got to help him understand that there’s 10 other guys on the field,” Applewhite said. “Some of the mistakes he may have made during the season were compounded by the situation we found ourselves in. We have to explain to him that, ‘We’re not going to put you behind the 8-ball as much.’ It’s going to be more team-oriented. It won’t be as quarterback-driven like it was with Colt or with Vince.”

College football has changed a lot during the last few years. The quarterback position has never been more important.

Regardless of how this quarterback battle ends, the Longhorns will need much better play from behind center than they had last season if they want to avoid another disappointing year.