This post is about Texas senior quarterback Case McCoy on the occasion of his graduation from the Texas football program as Mack Brown’s final starting quarterback. It’s as much an examination of the state of Texas football as it is a reflection on a part-time player turned starting quarterback in 2013. The legacy of Case McCoy is inseparable from the McCoy family era, the final eight seasons of Mack Brown’s Texas coaching career.
Case McCoy’s career burned fast, if not particularly hot. He began as a January enrollee in 2010, and did not redshirt. Vince Young redshirted. Colt McCoy redshirted. Garrett Gilbert redshirted. David Ash redshirted. Case McCoy rushed one time for two yards and passed one time incomplete as a freshman during the 2010 season. Thanks to that 2010 cameo, McCoy is out of NCAA eligibility. His three years as a quarterback at Texas will always be remembered as the very end of the Brown era.
McCoy completed more passes to WR Jaxon Shipley than to any other receiver over three years. Shipley, of course, is the brother of former Longhorn receiver Jordan Shipley, who caught more of Colt McCoy’s passes than any other single receiver. The wide receiver-quarterback relationships between the Shipley’s and McCoy’s is perfectly analogous for the current state of the Texas football program. Case didn’t enjoy the heights that Colt reached, Jaxon didn’t reach the receiving levels that Jordan did, and the program did not win as many games the last three years as it did from 2007-2009.
Colt McCoy is the career record holder at Texas for career wins, among other records. He’s also the program leader in games started. This is the biggest difference between the success levels of the brothers McCoy at Texas. Case McCoy was never plan A going into a season. He was recruited as a contingency plan Garrett Gilbert, in part because of strong ties between his family and the university. Gilbert completed 15 of 40 passes off the bench in the 2009 BCS National Championship against Alabama in relief of Colt McCoy, who finished his college football career watching the second half from the sidelines. He struggled as a started in 2010, and transferred to SMU two weeks into the 2011 season after losing the starting job to McCoy, who started against UCLA in 2011.McCoy won, but never possessed the job after Gilbert lost it. He spent the 2011 season in a straight timeshare of the job with David Ash. For the first time in Mack Brown’s time, Texas did not have a starting quarterback. Ash threw 173 passes that season to McCoy’s 144. Both players exceeded 1,000 yards, neither reached the elusive 1,100 plateau. McCoy’s greatest moment as a college quarterback came that season, when he won at Texas A&M in the final Big XII Thanksgiving Night rivalry game between the two programs, expediting Mike Sherman’s departure from the Aggies (without hurting Ryan Tannehill’s draft stock too much). For an encore, McCoy played tragic hero the following week for Robert Griffin III’s Heisman Trophy run.
David Ash started the next twelve games for Texas, with McCoy’s next start coming in relief of an injured Ash at the end of the 2012 season against Collin Klein and Kansas State, who would play in the Fiesta Bowl. The game went about as well for McCoy as the Baylor game went the prior year.
Ash got hurt (again) after three starts in 2013, and McCoy was named the Longhorns started at the end of September. Texas won five straight, including an improbable upset over Oklahoma. McCoy started and won Mack Brown’s final Texas victory on Thanksgiving night, defeating Kliff Kingsbury’s Texas Tech Red Raiders. In Brown’s first season as Texas head coach, Kingsbury the high school senior opted to play at Texas Tech. The victory was the Longhorn’s eighth, and allowed them to play for the Big XII title in Waco. McCoy struggled in that game, and was benched in the Valero Alamo Bowl against Oregon, watching the last drives his last college came from the sideline — same as Colt.
As far as college starters go, McCoy was mid-tier, and would be quickly forgotten but for his last name. When he works out at Texas’ pro day, it will be primarily as a thrower for someone like RB Malcolm Brown, should he declare eligible. It would be easy to say he benefited from his name and legacy, but I’m not sure that would be accurate. McCoy was given the jersey number 6, and told that he would be comfortable with it if he was half as good as his brother (Colt McCoy wore #12). A quarterback who led upsets over Texas A&M in 2011 and Oklahoma in 2013 could be celebrated for those games, not criticized for his shortcomings, but given that he is a clearly inferior player to his brother, that makes it tougher.
McCoy started about a season’s worth of games, completed 60% of his passes, won more than half his starts, threw more touchdowns than interceptions (though it didn’t feel like it at times), and started against all the good defenses Texas played in the last three years. Case McCoy was never great, but he was the durable quarterback who just kept surviving injuries and transfers. That’s an accomplishment. Case McCoy was just…there. And now, he’s gone.