Just as Texas’ quarterback situation began to stabilize and the Longhorns found their offensive identity, they ran into Missouri and Kansas State.
The Texas offense has put up just 16 points over its last two games, with the lone touchdown coming from the backup quarterback. Case McCoy took over for Garrett Gilbert when he struggled against BYU and remained the starting quarterback after Gilbert had shoulder surgery and announced his decision to transfer. But David Ash gradually wrestled the starting quarterback job from him. After Ash tossed two interceptions against Kansas State, McCoy replaced him with the Longhorns trailing 17-3 and nearly led them to a thrilling comeback victory.
“When Case came in, he gave us a great lift,” said head coach Mack Brown. “We’ve won so many games like that in the fourth quarter. We flipped the attitude, we got our swagger back and I thought we’d go right back, score and win the game.”
McCoy completed eight of his 16 passes for 80 yards while throwing his fourth touchdown pass of the season, a 36 yarder to senior tight end Blaine Irby. He fired three straight incompletions before getting sacked on fourth down on Texas’ next-to-last drive. The sophomore was more productive on the next possession and came close to hitting Mike Davis for a deep pass that would have put the Longhorns in a position to score a go-ahead touchdown.
“This is really why I came to this university,” McCoy said. “I came to play in big games like this. We fought hard and I know if we can keep our eye on the game, we can go to College Station and play a good game and beat a good team.”
McCoy’s name is on top of Ash’s on the depth chart but the pesky “or” remains between them. Head coach Mack Brown said a decision as to who would take the first snap in Thursday night’s game against Texas A&M would not be made until later in the week.
“We’re not making any decisions going forward,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “I liked what Case did when he came in. He provided a spark there. Like I said all along, we’re developing two quarterbacks for these types of situations.”
Ash has thrown eight interceptions in his last six games and completed less than half of his passes in the last three contests. The freshman quarterback, who Brown claimed provides the offense with an extra running threat, has averaged 1.5 yards per carry this season. Meanwhile, McCoy, who has proven to be an adept scrambler, has completed more than 60 percent of his throws this year and has yet to be picked off.
“You can see a little bit of his brother in him,” said junior wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. “He’s a good leader. He has it in him. He comes in and doesn’t sit on the sideline and point fingers when things go bad for us. He just steps in and does what he needs to do.
Without either of their top three rushers or best receiver completely healthy the last two weeks, the Longhorns have struggled offensively. Senior Fozzy Whittaker was lost for the season after tearing his ACL and MCL against Missouri while freshman Jaxon Shipley has not recovered from a knee injury he suffered against Kansas. Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron were not 100 percent healthy this past week but both played against Kansas State, who crowded the line of scrimmage in an effort to stop Texas’ running attack.
“Everyone’s playing close to the line of scrimmage,” Mack Brown said. “Kansas State, like A&M, is doing a great job against the run and struggling against the pass. Missouri’s playing well against the run and struggling against the pass.
The last time Texas beat Texas A&M, it was with a McCoy playing behind center. Colt’s gone to Cleveland but the Longhorns might need another McCoy to take down the Aggies this Thanksgiving.