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October 7, 2006
Texas quarterback is growing up quickly
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DALLAS – Colt McCoy had no doubts.
Soon, he may have no doubters.
McCoy threw two third-quarter touchdown passes Saturday in the Cotton Bowl to propel No. 7 Texas to a 28-10 Big 12 victory over No. 14 Oklahoma.
Sometimes, it takes year for a quarterback to mature. McCoy appears to have done so in the blink – and a wink – of an eye.
Trailing 10-7 but at the OU 33-yard line early in the third quarter, McCoy called a play in the huddle in which receiver Billy Pittman – the first option – would run a pattern into the right corner of the end zone. Sweed was supposed to run a 15-yard out route on the left side.
At the line of scrimmage McCoy read blitz, saw Oklahoma cornerback D.J. Wolfe in single coverage and immediately called an audible for the 6-foot-4 Sweed to run a go route. The result was a touchdown which provided Texas the lead it never lost.
"It's just one of those things you do against press coverage. It's understood … throw it up and let the receiver go get it," Sweed said. "We looked at each other and gave a wink. My eyes were probably as big as oranges because I knew the ball was coming to me."
If the Sooners were caught by surprise they were not alone. Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis was, too.
"The touchdown to Limas was a surprise in that (McCoy) came off the field and told me what blitz they were in and why he ran the play," Davis said. "He saw the blitz and had enough confidence to go away from the concept. We tell our quarterbacks, 'If you're in doubt, play the concept.' Typically, early in their careers they will stay with the concept - and he's already changing it."
Shipley also wasn't the primary receiver on the 7-yard touchdown pass, which was unquestionably the best throw McCoy has made as a college quarterback.
"He's so much more confident with everything that's happening," Davis said. "He's getting to the point where he's not seeing things for the first time. He sees this blitz and knows what he should do. He's matured beyond his years."
In some ways, though, he's still a goofy freshman.
Like when he was asked what he'd learned from playing No. 1 Ohio State four weeks ago.
"The biggest thing I learned is we hate to lose," McCoy said. "We came out and pulled together and did what it takes to win."
Then there was his second quarter motivational speech that, if not in the heat of the moment, might have seemed a little humorous to his teammates that won the national championship last season.
"He is running up and down the sideline telling people to keep their heads up," said senior running back Selvyn Young, who scored Texas' first touchdown. "We're looking at him, like 'Our heads are up.' But we understood."
Four weeks ago, McCoy seemed lost when the then-No. 2 Longhorns were taken apart by Ohio State.
In that game, McCoy completed 19 of 32 passes – mainly short, safe throws – and had a costly interception.
After Ohio State and prior to Saturday, McCoy completed 82.6 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and just one interception. But that was against inferior competition – Rice, Iowa State and Sam Houston.
He had to prove he could play well against a nationally ranked opponent on a grand stage. For Texas, they don't come any grander than against the rival Sooners.
In the first half Saturday, McCoy again appeared overmatched. He had a nice play when he avoided the rush and threw a 15-yard completion to Quan Cosby, but most of his passes were short and safe. He completed just six of 11 for a pedestrian 42 yards.
But he had a strong second half and finished with 11 completions on 18 attempts for 108 yards. He also rushed for 11 yards.
"He did an excellent job," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "He managed the game for them in a really good way. They all took care of the football, and that's a big factor in this game."
McCoy's numbers weren't staggering, but he was effective and efficient.
That's all the Longhorns have asked for, but maybe they should ask for more.
"I told our coaches we need to trust Colt more," Texas coach Mack Brown said of the Longhorns' halftime adjustments. "We allowed him to throw the ball downfield and that opened up the running game."
And it may allow Texas to start thinking about getting another shot at Ohio State and possibly another national championship - if a few teams ranked ahead of them stumble in the second half of the season.
Of course, the Longhorns must finish the season without another loss. The remaining schedule includes perilous road trips to Nebraska and Texas Tech.
But the Longhorns' optimism is growing - mainly because their quarterback is, too.