Case and point: Sophomore limits turnovers

Austin Laymance

The Longhorns hope Case McCoy still has some magic left.

The sophomore quarterback, who will make his second start in a row in the season finale, always seems to come up big for Texas when it matters most.

He instrumented a game-winning drive in the final minutes of last Thursday’s win over Texas A&M. A week before, McCoy nearly completed a remarkable comeback against Kansas State. And early in the year, in the first meaningful game of his career, McCoy rallied the Longhorns in the fourth quarter to beat BYU.

“He does a really good job of making plays when we need them,” said senior left guard David Snow.

But McCoy, who has split snaps with David Ash for most of the year, will need to pull another rabbit out of his hat to beat Baylor. Still, the ball always seems to bounce his way. Two tipped balls should have been intercepted last week, but they found the turf before the Aggies could get their hands on them.

Against UCLA, McCoy severely underthrew to Mike Davis, only to have the ball bounce off a Bruin and into Davis’ lap.

McCoy’s success, though, isn’t all about good fortune. He’s yet to throw an interception in 106 attempts this season, and he’s a better runner than advertised, just watch his 25-yard scramble against A&M for proof.

“There’s times when a quarterback has to be a playmaker and make plays with his feet,” McCoy said. “It’s just instinct.”

McCoy doesn’t have the physical tools or prowess of Baylor quarterback and Heisman hopeful Robert Griffin, but then again, he’s used to it. McCoy’s been in the shadow of his older brother, Colt, ever since he stepped foot in Austin. Adversity is nothing new to him.

He began the season as the backup, started three games while splitting time with Ash, and then watched as the coaching staff gave the job to the freshman. But McCoy didn’t sulk, and he made the most of the snaps that came his way.

“He didn’t back off or stand off, he knew his opportunity would come up again,” said quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin. “Case has done a good job, being there ready to go when it’s his opportunity.”

While Ash started five games in a row, McCoy watched from the sidelines and got mop-up work. But throughout the process, he was there when Texas called.

“He stayed level headed,” said senior linebacker Keenan Robinson. “He never complained. He’s a guy that’s going to buy-in every week. If the coach asks him to signal plays from the sidelines, he’s going to do it. If they ask him to go in and drive down the field in the fourth quarter to win the game, he’s going to do it.”

That’s exactly what McCoy did last week in his first start in more than a month, and now he has a chance to get the majority of the snaps during bowl practices if he can find a way to lead Texas past Griffin and BU. That means jump-starting a passing attack that’s been absent for the second half of the season.

If McCoy intends on keeping the starting job, he’ll have to do a better job moving the chains.

“I’d like to see him convert some more third downs and hit some easier throws,” Harsin said. “If he’ll continue down that road of not turning the ball over and managing the game, doing a better job on third downs, then you’ve got something.”

And he’d be wise not to try going throw-for-throw with Griffin.

“If it’s a shootout, we’re in trouble,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown, who is 12-1 against BU.