January 14, 2009

Can Colt possibly repeat his numbers from '08?

Today we start our position-by-position analysis looking back at the 2008 season to determine if that position underachieved, overachieved or was a non-factor in the success of Texas' 12-1 season.


Colt McCoy, Junior, 6-3, 210

The numbers:
Completed 332 of 433 passes for 3,859 yards and 34 touchdowns with eight interceptions; 136 rushes for 561 yards (4.1 ypc) and 11 TDs

A fast start in 2008: Through four, non-conference games, against Florida Atlantic (a bowl winner at 7-6 in 2008), UTEP (5-7 in '08), Rice (a bowl winner at 10-3 in '08) and Arkansas (5-7 in '08), McCoy had 14 TD passes and only one interception as Texas won those games by an average of 50 to 11. It was a welcomed start after the first five games of the 2007 season, when McCoy had eight TD passes and nine interceptions. McCoy leaned heavily on Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby in the first four games as they combined for seven touchdowns. Shipley and Cosby would be McCoy's go-to guys all season.

McCoy also went to Blaine Irby for a pair of touchdowns against Florida Atlantic and UTEP. But a serious knee injury would remove Irby as an option in the third game of the season against Rice.

Turnovers: McCoy had two two-interception games - at Colorado and home against Baylor. One of the pickoffs against Colorado bounced off the hands of tight end Peter Ullman and ended up leading to a CU touchdown. The other interception did not lead to points.

Against Baylor, both interceptions were Colt's fault, but they only led to one touchdown. All eight of McCoy's interceptions this season led to a total of 24 points for the opposition. So the defense helped limit the damage when McCoy gave them a sudden change or short field to defend.

The most damaging of the of the interceptions this season was the only pick returned for a touchdown - by Texas Tech's Daniel Charbonnet with 7:33 left in the third quarter - which helped put the Red Raiders up 29-13 and made UT's comeback that much harder.

Crazy Legs McCoy: Unlike last season when McCoy's legs weren't discovered as necessary weapons until the second half of the season, McCoy's legs were a big part of the offense from the beginning in 2008. He rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in the opener against Florida Atlantic - setting the tone for things to come.

He ran for 83 yards and a TD against Rice (that TD became his signature run of the year because he collided with Rice safety Andrew Sendejo, knocked Sendejo backward and then rammed Sendejo again as McCoy went into the end zone); ran for 84 yards and two TDs against Arkansas; and ran 14 times against OU with a long carry of 18 yards in that game. McCoy was so beat up after the Tech game (deep thigh bruise, split lip), he ran only eight times for 21 yards against Baylor and opted to slide for the first time all season.

McCoy had his most carries in a 35-7 win at Kansas (16 for 78 yards), helping to inspire his team and make sure there would be no ambush in Lawrence. McCoy finished the year with a team-leading 136 carries for 561 yards and 11 TDs. His yards-per-carry average was a respectable 4.1 ypc., considering sack yardage comes out of run totals for quarterbacks in college. His 561 yards were the lowest total to lead Texas in rushing since Butch Hadnot's 501 yards in 1991.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Hard to pick nits with a guy who did all that running while becoming the most accurate passer in the history of Division I football, completing 76.7 percent of his passes. McCoy's leadership was off the charts, constantly studying and helping teammates with their assignments and serving as the calm voice in the huddle during comeback drives against Texas Tech and Ohio State. If there's anything McCoy needs to work on from a technical standpoint, it's remaining in the pocket, stepping up and/or sliding right or left. There were a few times where he left the pocket a little early and ended up in trouble. But it will be difficult for McCoy to match what he did in 2008 as a senior at Texas. Thirty-four TD passes, eight interceptions, completing nearly 80 percent of his passes and serving as the team's leading rusher. That might be too much to ask of the kid again. He could use someone else's legs in a running game to help take the pressure off. But if anyone will be up for the challenge, it's Colt McCoy.

John Chiles, Sophomore, 6-2, 215

The numbers: Completed 11 of 13 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns; ran 45 times for 131 yards (2.9 ypc) and two touchdowns

High points in 2008: Never became a factor with the first-team offense in what coaches called the Q Package.

Failed attempts: Coaches tried to move Chiles to receiver and running back in addition to his duties as backup quarterback this season, but nothing worked. After the regular season, coaches went to Chiles and asked him what position he wanted to play, and Chiles said quarterback only. Coaches said he was enthused and productive during bowl practices.

FINAL ANALYSIS: This may not end well for Chiles. While Garrett Gilbert, the super freshman from Lake Travis, has indicated he might be willing to redshirt next season, coaches are preparing for Gilbert to play if necessary in 2009. The thought is Gilbert will most likely be the starter in 2010 and will need reps and game experience in 2009. Could be another long year for Chiles, despite his new, fresh attitude.

Sherrod Harris, Sophomore, 6-3, 215

High points in 2008: Started two drives for Texas in the season opener against Florida Atlantic, but did nothing except hand off and finished the year with no statistics.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Harris, like Chiles, had better think long and hard about how much he wants to play in college. By staying at quarterback, they could be writing themselves out of the picture.

OVERALL: This position overachieved because of McCoy's versatility, leadership and incredible accuracy in the passing game. The future looks bright with McCoy coming back to further re-write Texas' record books and seek another conference title and possibly more. With Gilbert in the wings, appearing to be UT's next in line, Chiles and Harris may need to rethink their position, transfer or simply enjoy being at Texas and getting a quality education.

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