Case McCoy, Jaxon Shipley combination comes alive

David Leffler

For any Texas football fan, the names McCoy and Shipley go together like peanut butter and jelly. But this isn’t the older McCoy and Shipley sibling combination. Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley are gone. Instead, the aerial attack is led by the younger duo: senior quarterback Case McCoy and junior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley. They are the pair could make or break the Longhorns’ Big 12 title chances, and Case McCoy always seems to look to Jaxon Shipley when he needs a completion, especially in third down situations.  

After taking over for junior quarterback David Ash, McCoy had trouble converting on third down. He completed only 9-for-17 passes on third down against Kansas State and Iowa State, and only a few of those resulted in first downs. What’s more telling is that he only completed one of three passes targeted at Shipley, his supposed safety blanket. 

Since then, McCoy seems to have settled into his starting role. He has completed 13 of his 17 attempts to Shipley in the games since Iowa State, including a perfect 4-for-4 against Oklahoma and Kansas. But this revamped McCoy-Shipley duo never looked better than it did Saturday, as the pair made a multitude of crucial plays in the Longhorns’ overtime win against the Mountaineers. 

The Longhorn offense sputtered well into the third quarter of the game, converting only 1 of 11 third down attempts. McCoy especially struggled, completing only 1 of 10 passes on third down. With the game and Texas’ Big 12 title hopes hanging in the balance, McCoy adjusted and threw to Jaxon Shipley. The two put on a clinic as the game wound down, converting three straight third down conversions, including a beautiful pass-and-catch for a 10-yard touchdown on third and goal midway through the fourth quarter. 

No completion was more important than their last. With barely more than a minute left in the game and the Longhorns facing fourth-and-seven, McCoy found Shipley 9 yards down field, extending the game and giving Texas the opportunity for a game-tying field goal.

It is obvious how comfortable these two feel playing together. Against West Virginia, McCoy was 5-for-8 on third down when looking for Shipley and 2-for-9 when throwing to anyone else. But this trend isn’t an isolated. This season, McCoy is 13-for-20 when looking for Shipley on third down, and 22-for-42 throwing to all other receivers — a 13 percent difference in completion percentage.

Mack Brown wants to lean on the running game to pace the Texas offense, and he should. But with talented sophomore running back Johnathan Gray out for the year with a ruptured Achilles, the Longhorns will likely have to take to the air more often. When they do, be sure to keep an eye on Shipley — McCoy will.