The last time Texas played at the Rose Bowl, they had a McCoy starting at quarterback. After some recent depth chart shuffling, when the Longhorns return to Pasadena, they’ll still have a McCoy taking the first snap.
Texas’ 37-21 loss to Alabama in the national title game two seasons ago marked the end of Colt McCoy’s college football career. Now the Longhorns are back at the venue where McCoy made his last start for Texas and where his younger brother, Case McCoy, will make his first. McCoy, a sophomore, did not start against BYU last weekend but guided the Longhorns to a come-from-behind win much like the ones his older brother once engineered.
“I was looking forward to being hit,” McCoy said. “I haven’t been hit in two years. That was good to get the first hit out of the way. I’ve prayed about this day my whole life and the Lord’s blessed me. I had the time of my life.”
When it comes to the comparison between the McCoy brothers, numbers don’t tell the whole story. The momentum took a sharp swing in Texas’ favor when McCoy entered the game this past Saturday and the sideline became much more enthusiastic. McCoy’s teammates may have been taking after him as he, like his older brother once did, reassured and inspired them throughout the contest.
“He plays a big leadership role on this team,” said freshman wide receiver Jaxon Shipley. “When something goes good, he’s the first guy to go congratulate somebody and he’ll give a fist pump because he’s really excited. It’s good to have all that energy on the field.”
McCoy, who was named the Longhorns’ starting quarterback Monday, has a long way to go before he has a resumé like his brother’s. He even has some work to do before he solidifies his spot as Texas’ top field general.
Remember that Garrett Gilbert’s first significant action as a Longhorn came in a relief appearance during the aforementioned national championship game against Alabama. Gilbert, considering the fact that he was a true freshman facing a defense filled with All-Americans, played well. His debut was not too different from McCoy’s. After getting their first glimpse of them, fans were excited about both Gilbert’s and McCoy’s futures. With a good performance in a win over UCLA this weekend, McCoy can propel himself to a career more like his brother’s.
When it comes to McCoy and his brother, however, the comparisons don’t stop with them. Jordan Shipley, Texas’ all-time receptions leader, and McCoy’s older brother were arguably the Longhorns’ most dynamic quarterback-receiver tandem ever. Now, their siblings are bringing the McCoy-to-Shipley connection back. McCoy and Shipley, who have known each other since they were about eight, hooked up for 14 and 20 yards, the first two times in their careers, during the 4th-quarter drive that put Texas ahead of BYU.
“I think we’re actually closer [than Colt and Jordan],” Shipley said. “We’ve gone on family fishing trips and have known each other since we were little kids. Colt and Jordan didn’t really know each other as young as we did.”
As excited as fans are about having “McCoy” on the back of their quarterback’s jersey, they’re just as amped to see “Shipley” on the back of a receiver’s. Both Shipley brothers have strikingly similar playing styles. They’re comfortable and extremely productive in the slot, always one of the smartest players on field (even if they’re not among the biggest), both have incredible hands, and run precise routes.
“Most of my game is probably from him,” Shipley said. “He’s taught me so much on the mental side of the game, like having a strong mind and not letting things get to you like dropped balls or when things aren’t going your way to stay positive.”
McCoy, the one who currently leads the Cleveland Browns offense, had a terrific first year as the Longhorns starter when he was a freshman, setting the NCAA record for touchdown passes by a freshman and helping Texas post a 10-3 record. It remains to be seen if his little brother will follow in his footsteps but he’s off to a good start. Fortunately for the McCoy that is now leading the Texas Longhorns offense, the score will be 0-0 when he goes in against UCLA, not with Texas trailing 13-0 like it was against BYU.
It’s come full circle. McCoy’s career as Texas’ starting quarterback will begin where his older brother’s ended. He’s got a long way to go. His older brother racked up a NCAA-record 45 wins. But if McCoy has his way, he’ll get started with win No. 1 in Pasadena, a place even his record-setting brother didn’t win.