Nov. 28, 1983: Horns climb out of hole, remain perfect

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COLLEGE STATION — For 10 games, Rick McIvor watched. He practiced, he worked and he was more or less ignored. While Todd Dodge and Rob Moerschell were taking turns saving each other, McIvor only played obvious passing situations. Everyone go long. Rick McIvor — instant offense.

The strategy worked once, an 80-yard touchown to Kelvin Epps against Auburn. It failed miserably another time. McIvor provided the instant offense for TCU when his only pass of the game was picked off and returned 66 yards for a touchdown.

“It was unfortunate,” Texas coach Fred Akers said. “He goes in there against TCU cold, right off the bench and his first pass is picked off for a touchdown. Rick McIvor two years ago couldn’t have handled that.”

In Texas’ 45-13 nuking of Texas A&M before a record crowd of 76,751 at Kyle Field, McIvor didn’t have any troubling handling the Aggies. With Texas trailing 13-0 and its offense choking in its own cloud of dust, McIvor entered the game and administered CPR. Less than 15 minutes of playing time later, the Longhorns had scored all 45 of their points.

“The coaches had talked to me this week about playing more,” McIvor said. “But I hurt my back early in the week, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be ready if needed.”

The win clinched the 11-0 Longhorns’ 17th outright Southwest Conference title and their 22nd overall. It was the Longhorns’ third consecutive victory over the Aggies, whose record fell to 5-5-1.

The day was a vindication of sorts for McIvor. As the Longhorns worked out in preparation for their opening game with Auburn, McIvor was battling Moerschell and Dodge for the starting quarterback position. But McIvor, who missed fall workouts with scholastic problems, was further set back when he suffered a turf burn on his elbow and wrist and an infection set in. He missed 10 days of practice.

“It was pretty bad,” Akers said. “I’d go to the health center to visit him, and they’d make you wash your hands in alcohol before you left the room.”

As a result, when Dodge, the announced starter for the season opener, separated his shoulder, Akers called on Moerschell to start the game.

McIvor spent most of the season on the bench. Going into the A&M game, he had thrown just 12 passes all season and completed just three for 105 yards and one touchdown. During the A&M game, he completed eight-of-12 passes for 170 yards and four touchdowns as the Longhorn offense set season highs for total offense (445 yards), passing offense (258 yards) and pass completions (12).

“We’ve talked it over all season, and my feeling is nothing matters except winning,” said McIvor, when asked about sitting on the bench. “It hasn’t bothered me at all, so long as we’ve been winning. That may be hard for a lot of people to understand, but that’s exactly the way I feel. No matter what it takes, no matter who’s in there, all that matters is us winning. I didn’t get discouraged. I knew I’d get my chance.”