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October 31, 2006

COLT WOULD LOOK GOOD IN THAT POSE

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

Jim Vertuno of the Associated Press has a great story today about mentioning Colt McCoy's name in the same breath as the Heisman.

He knows a freshman will never win, but it's not too early to start thinking about next year.

troysmith.jpgOf course, just about everyone and their Buckeye has already given the Heisman trophy this year to Ohio State's Troy Smith.

It's his to lose, but you'd be surprised who is really the No. 2 quarterback overall to him in the nation of those other signal-callers supposedly in the running - Erik Ainge of Tennessee and Brady Quinn of Notre Dame.

Let's look at some numbers:

Smith - 145-of-214 for 1,898 yds, 22 TDs, 2 INTs, 67.8% compl. rate and 174.31 rating.
McCoy - 147-of-217 for 1,705 yds, 24 TDs, 4 INTs, 68.3% compl. rate and 166.55 rating.
Ainge - 167-of-246 for 2,213 yds, 16 TDs, 8 INTs, 67.9% compl. rate and 158.41 rating.
Quinn - 193-of-303 for 2,233 yds, 21 TDs, 4 INTs, 63.7% compl. rate and 145.84 rating.

Colt has more touchdown passes and a better completion rate than anyone on that list, and his passing rating puts him 6th in the nation, just behind Smith who's 5th.

trophy.jpg Vertuno makes a good point when he theorizes that if Adrian Peterson couldn't win the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, no one can. That's just not the order of the college universe.

And even if by some magical alignment of the planets, UT and Ohio State meet again at the end of this season - this time for the national championship - and even if Texas wins and Colt has a lights-out day, the Heisman voting will be long over.

So, no Heisman for Colt his season, even though he's going to break a national record for TD passes by a freshman and probably some others as well.

But I smell another T-shirt - "Colt for Heisman" or something like that.

BTW, if you want to read the entire Vertuno story, click here.

October 30, 2006

IT HAPPENS!

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

Maybe you caught Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis on TV Saturday afternoon talking about his quarterback Brady Quinn.

mackbrown.jpg Weis was trying to explain "It" - a quality great quarterbacks have that's a mixture of confidence, skill, presence, mojo, aura, and whatever other ineffable characteristic that turns an otherwise normal athlete into a successful leader.

I think Quinn definitely has It. After watching the Dallas Cowboys game last night, I have to admit Tony Romo just might have It as well.

Vince Young definitely had It, and you can probably think of others at the drop of a helmet. Speaking of helmets, Colt McCoy seems to have a wad of It stuffed under his.

I like to think of It as the perfect mixture of brawn and brains ... and people (including teammates) just pick up on That - meaning It.

After Colt's interception throw late in the first quarter which put the Red Raiders up 21-0, the TV cameras showed Mack Brown talking at length to his young quarterback.

Reportedly, one of the things he told Colt was, "The only way we can come back and win is if the players can see It in your eyes."

Brown evidently believes Colt has It, or even if he doesn't yet, he was smart enough to try to get Colt to believe It himself.

Actually, It first introduced Itself to Colt in the Oklahoma game.

I think that (meaning It) was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

October 28, 2006

IT'S SHOWTIME!

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

While watching the game on TBS: (READ from earliest entries below)

FINAL, UT 35, Tech 31: Man, what a game! I hate that my Red Raiders lost, but being a big fan of Colt McCoy - the athlete and the young man - I enjoyed seeing him have a great night.

colt.jpg Great nights for quarterbacks are defined by: 1) your team wins; 2) you throw 4 touchdown passes; 3) you rush for 68 yards and have the longest run of anyone; 4) you get named Player of the Game (Colt's 6th time this year); 5) you throw for 256 yards; and 6) you get interviewed on national TV.

During that interview, Colt was huffing-and-puffing and sounding a lot like Elvis right after the game as a result of his nifty long run that iced the win. He takes none of the credit and gives it all to God and his teammates.

Colt has led his team to come-from-behind victories the last four games.

He's the real deal ... just in case anyone has had any doubts.

6:14, fourth quarter: Probably the key play in the game. Tech went for it on 4th and 15. Harrell came through with a pass that was initially called only 14.5 yards on the field. That held up through the review and the Longhorns got the ball on their own 20.

AND THEN ... the REAL key play of the game. Fumble by Texas. Red Raiders get the ball back on the 'Horns' 25.

AND THEN ... UT holds on fourth down again at their own 15.

8:54, fourth quarter: After Graham Harrell was the only one to stop Graham Harrell with a interception with 10:25 left, the Red Raider defense and a dropped pass that would've put UT down deep in Territory, the Red Raiders got the ball back and started to roll again.

13:24, fourth quarter: Who would've thought Colt McCoy would have more TD passes than Graham Harrell, who is near the top in nationwide statistics. But there was his fourth on 3rd and 5 from the Tech 28-yard line. A pretty throw across his body, showing his arm strength. Texas leads for the first time, 35-31, but I don't think that's the last time the lead changes hands.

End of 3rd quarter: UT defense rises to the occasion and after a punt, the Longhorns have the ball at the 50 yard line. I expect them to grind it out again on the ground. They should really go down deep to Sweed, like Harrell does with his receivers.

1:42, third quarter: Selvin Young's fumble-itis hits again while UT is driving down the field to take the lead. Red Raiders get the ball back on their 25-yard line and dodge a bullet. That makes up for a non-potent offensive series by the the Raiders earlier in the quarter.

7:51, 3rd quarter: A couple of great passes and runs by Colt. A 17-yard run - the longest by anyone on either team all night long - and what looked like a 15-yard run for paydirt which was overturned when it was reviewed. UT had 1st and goal at the one-yard line. That only delayed the inevitable as Selvin Young went over the top for the TD, his fifth of the year. Score: Red Raiders 31, Longhorns 28

12:25, 3rd quarter: UT goes 3 and out and then finally stymies Tech's passing game by sacking Graham Harrell for the first time and Tech has to punt. So much for 100 points in this game. The defensive squads seem to have come out more fired up than their offensive counterparts.

Halftime: UT still hasn't stopped Graham Harrell. With 24 seconds left in the half, he answered Colt's third TD pass with a 30-yarder of his own to take his team to the lockers ahead 31-21. Harrell has completed 25 of 31 passes for 368 yards and 3 TDs. Whew! How about a 100 points in this game? We're on track for that.

FYI: In the first half, Colt was 16-of-21 for 205 yards, 3 TDs and one pick.

2:15 2nd quarter: And just like that ... Red Raiders stop themselves after a great inside screen pass rolling right down the field, a fumble and the very next play Colt's third TD pass of the night - a 45-yarder to Limas Sweed. Wow! 24-21 ... a great game!

4:35, 2nd quarter:UT appears to be waking up. Even though the receivers are dropping some good passes from Colt, his childhood buddy didn't. Jordan Shipley caught Colt's second TD pass of the night, a 29-yarder, and Tech leads by 10, 24-14. Next? A bunch of passes from Graham Harrell.

6:51, 2nd quarter: Field goal by Tech. Well, the UT offense may not be panicking, but the defense might be just a little "nervous" when seeing Graham Harrell across the scrimmage line. Harrell has not had any trouble connecting. The only ones keeping the Red Raiders out of the end zone is their running game, which they inexplicably went to when inside the UT five-yard line two times in a row! Thought sure there would be a third TD pass by Harrell.

11:18, 2nd quarter: A play after Limas Sweed drops a perfect TD pass from Colt, Jones catches one from his quarterback and suddenly there isn't big goose egg on the burnt orange side. Bad news for UT fans is now the powerful Red Raider offense now takes the field again.

Right before the TD, TBS analyst Charles Davis mentioned that Colt McCoy has earned his team's respect over the first part of the season and they have confidence in him and won't panic. At 21-7, maybe they won't.

End of 1st Quarter: Not even close who is the most aggressive team. Tech playing lights out. McCoy is 6-of-8 for 53 yards and that INT that went for 6 for the Red Raiders. Someone must have told the Longhorns that USC lost and it freaked them out. I love a battle of passers. Looks like Mack Brown is going to have to let Colt loose to counter the effective Tech air attack.

1:05, first quarter:Definitely worse start than against the Cornhuskers. McCoy's interception returned for a TD. Raiders lead 21-0.

6:31, first quarter: Deja vu for UT playing someone dressed in red. After a fumble by Jamaal Charles, Tech went right down the field again, taking full advantage of the banged-up defensive backfield of the Horns. Result? Second TD pass by Graham Harrell, this one to Eric Morris. Tech 14, UT 0.

Even though Colt was 5-for-5 in that first drive, UT's start is even worse than it was in Nebraska. The Red Raiders look motivated.

10:15, first quarter: Longhorns' first four plays were completed passes by Colt. Then one running play that didn't go anywhere and then a fifth pass to the Red Raiders' 30-yard line.

12:30, first quarter: Yep, USC lost and Texas Tech is rolling right down the field, getting great pass protection and making first down on a 27-yard pass on 4th down. Red Raiders threatening already. In fact, at 11:54 Tech draws first blood and leads 7-0 on Graham Harrell's 26th TD pass, this one to Shannon Wood.

Minutes before kickoff: Whoa, Nellie! USC might be upset by Oregon State with a minute left in the game. That can only help Texas if they can somehow get past the Red Raiders...and the Trojans don't pull off a comeback.

October 26, 2006

A NICE DUEL ON THE CAPROCK

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

I've seen a couple of good games in Lubbock between the Red Raiders and Longhorns.

coltsmallPUBmug.jpg One of the best was a back-and-forth whopper in 1976 that Texas Tech won 31-28 ... only because Earl Campbell was injured late.

I've never seen one in Jones Stadium where the opposing quarterbacks will get this much scrutiny.

Colt McCoy and Graham Harrell are almost carbon copies of each other - same weight, same height. Graham is one year older, but both led their high school teams to great heights.

Colt set all kinds of Class 2A records at Jim Ned, and Graham did the same thing at Class 4A Ennis.

But that was then and this is now. Cue the stats, please.

Each has played in 8 games, and Graham holds the edge in just about all Big 12 statistical categories. He's ranked No. 1 out of 10 quarterbacks. Colt is No. 9

Graham is 245-of-356 for 2,505 yards, 25 TDs, 7 interceptions and a 313.1 yard average on a 68.8% completion rate.

grahamharrell.jpgColt is 126-of-186 for 1,449 yards, 20 TDs, 3 interceptions and a 181.1 yard average on a 67.7% completion rate.

Of course, the philosophy of offensive attack has a lot to do with those numbers. The Red Raiders are a little more pass-happy than the Longhorns.

Colt does lead Graham in one category - passing efficiency. That's where they give all the stats to a bunch of geeks who multiply and divide until they have a number.

That number for Colt is 165.4, placing him third among Big 12 quarterbacks, while Graham's number is 147.2, making him fifth. Oklahoma State's Bobby Reid leads the conference with 177.7.

I'm thinking passing efficiency might be the difference in this game. It will be close again - maybe even as close as the Nebraska game.

Yeah, probably overtime. Who knows who'll win after that.

Here's a bit of an irony - Colt's father Brad now coaches at Graham. And if we dug deep enough, I bet Graham (the quarterback) had a colt (a young horse) when he was growing up.

Spooky, huh? Well, Halloween is coming up.

October 24, 2006

COLT ON EBAY

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

Wouldn't you know it.

super12Tshirt.jpgThere I was on the Big Giant Head (the Internet) trying to find Associated Press photos of the UT games with Rice and Iowa State missing from our slideshows when Colt McCoy suddenly appeared on eBay.

There were a couple of autographed pictures of him (one with Mack Brown) for $7.95, a "Colt McCoy Texas Longhorns Super 12 Jersey T-shirt" for $8.50 (or you could "Buy it now for $10!") and a "limited edition" 8x10 painting for $14.99.

The latter appears to have been "photoshopped" from Tony Gutierrez' Associated Press photograph from the Oklahoma game (part of which makes up the masthead for this blog). You can see the complete photograph in Slideshow No. 2.

I guess you've really made the big time when other people have items about YOU on eBay. Not to mention a huge page on Wikipedia and 200,000-plus search results on Google.

charlesdavis.jpg
BTW, back to football, the UT/Tech game will be televised on TBS this Saturday at 6 p.m. from Lubbock. Not sure who the announcers are, but I hope Charles Davis is one of them. He's a great analyst.

The kickoff time is a lot more "soccer-friendly" to those of us who have kids in youth programs. That may be about a jillion in the Lone Star State alone.

BTW2, I get absolutely zilch for giving eBay a free plug and Debra McCoy an idea for gifts for all the relatives this Christmas.

October 23, 2006

MORE ABOUT DUAL LOYALTY

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

The last time the Longhorns lost on an opponent's home field was back in 2002 - a 42-38 barn-burning defeat at the hands of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, who just so happen to be this week's opponent.

techlogo.jpgYou may have heard that Texas Tech likes to pass. You may have also heard that UT ranks 84th nationwide in pass defense right now. Sounds like another big challenge to me. The Longhorns are 1-1 in big challenges this year.

Having spent many a Saturday in the howling confines of Jones Stadium back in the day, the Nebraska freeze-fest challenge was perfect practice for throwing the pigskin around on top of the howling caprock Lubbock is situated upon.

Once upon a time, the pass-happy Red Raiders were "kinda" in the running for Colt McCoy, but most people probably didn't even know it.

I think Colt told Mike Leach "no" early on, but he might have waffled at first.

texasflag.jpg
Colt's long-time girlfriend from early in high school was pre-determined to attend Texas Tech, if for no other reason than her grandfather was a P.O.I. (person of importance) there.

She's there now and no doubt experiencing dual-loyalties (I know the feeling). No, I won't give you her name.

Before Colt even donned his Indians uniform at Jim Ned for his senior year, he was saying stuff like "if you're going to play college ball in Texas, the University of Texas is the place to be."

So, he was sort of pre-determined himself.

Let's just say if the TV broadcasters pick up on this love story, they'll soap opera it big-time - "The Long-Distance Romance - Hill Country and the Caprock."

They'll show her in the stands ... probably after each TD pass and/or sack.

Who knows ... she could even be wearing one of those split jerseys Mrs. Archie Manning has in the closet (Colts on one side, Giants on the other).

I may have to get me one of those with Red Raiders on one side, Longhorns on the other ... No. 12, of course.

All I know is whoever wins Saturday, I'll be happy.

And probably what's-her-name, too.

October 21, 2006

LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW!

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

What looked like a bad beat suddenly turned into a squeaky win and Colt McCoy has another "Player of the Game" award this season.

For his first game out of Texas, McCoy had to not only face a determined Nebraska team but Mother Nature as well. That tacky lady threw howling wind and snow right back in his baby face.

He was up to that challenge as well.

letitsnow.jpg Despite McCoy's two touchdowns, 220 yards passing and 64 % completion rate (25-of-39), teammate Ryan Bailey is the "hero" of the game. A walk-on kicker from Anderson High in Austin, he came on the field cold in the final seconds of the game to kick the winning field goal - his first attemt ever!

Bailey showed the same fearlessness that McCoy exhibits.

The Longhorns didn't play that well, but all things considered, that 22-20 victory is as big as any this year.

Everyone expected it to be close, but it just doesn't get much closer than that. Don't ask about the final 30 seconds. I don't have enough space to explain it.

Texas, just get on the plane, lick your wounds and count your blessings.

Head back to the Lone Star State where thousands of kids missed the game because they were playing soccer in 70- and 80-degree sunny weather.

October 20, 2006

IT'S QUIET ... TOO QUIET!

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

Not a lot of hype buzzing around out there right now for Saturday morning's game (11 a.m. CST, ABC) with Nebraska.

That's a little strange considering both teams are 6-1 and Texas is trying to impress the BCS machine. Guess most people can't get worked up for the Cornhuskers like they can the Buckeyes or Sooners or Aggies.

callahan.jpg Maybe it's the nickname - although a Cornhusker sounds scarier than a Buckeye on general principles.

The Longhorns won't be afraid, but they better be very careful. Of the five games remaining, this one has upset written all over it, and a resurgent Nebraska team probably wouldn't consider a win in the friendly confines of their own stadium as an upset.

As in the Ohio State game, the UT defense is going to be the key. If Nebraska somehow pulls out the victory it will be because of some long bombs and crossing routes that a depleted Longhorn defensive backfield gives up.

I don't expect Colt to cave into the pressure of the "Red Sea" of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. He's had plenty of opportunities to be the "deer in the headlights" already this season and hasn't.

Both teams have played Iowa State already. The Longhorns beat the Cyclones 37-14, while Nebraska came away the winner, 28-14. I think that's a pretty good barometer of what to expect.

And what I expect is a Texas victory by the closest margin yet this season, 28-17. But for that to happen, Colt will have to continue on his TD rampage and toss at least two of those puppies into paydirt.

October 18, 2006

FATHER BRAD ADDS TO COLT LORE

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

Enjoying the TV announcers of the UT games and their anecdotes? Colt McCoy's father Brad is.

I talked to him by phone Tuesday afternoon before he took his Graham Steers out on the practice field.

I wanted to ask him about some of the lore already surfacing on television broadcasts.

bradmccoy.jpg What about Brad sprinkling some Texas dirt under the hospital bed where Colt was born in Hobbs, N.M., so he could say Colt was born on Texas soil?

"I'll have to plead the Fifth (Amendment) on that one," he said. I couldn't tell if Brad was embarrassed that he actually did that deed long ago or if he just didn't want to spoil the "Colt Lore" already forming.

It's a great story, true or not.

But another story is absolutely true, says Brad, who is enjoying the fact that his high school team has a bye week and his trip to Nebraska won't be so hectic.

Confirmed is the story about Colt who, as ballboy at age 8, was standing on the sidelines during a game his father was coaching.

"Dad, if you run a screen now, it'll work," he said. So, dad called a screen and it worked ... for a touchdown!

"Yeah, that happened," said Brad.

Also, the recent story about Colt getting a rousing round of applause from his classmates the Monday morning following the Oklahoma game when he went to class. Yes, true!

"He really hates the limelight," said Brad of his son. "It's really so overwhelming for him."

Brad said that this past Monday, following the record-setting six TDs against Baylor, Colt decided to skip class because he didn't want the extra attention.

One thing Brad nor I can remember, however, is if Colt has been named Player of the Game for all of this season's UT telecasts. I think he has, even in the Ohio State loss. Brad just isn't sure. Guess I should've asked ol' Mom. I bet Debra McCoy knows.

I still get a kick out of the TV broadcasters. Some of them butcher the word Tuscola. It's pronounced tuss-KOH-lah.

I've heard TUSS-koh-lah and TUSS-koh-LAH. The latter pronunciation sounds like a menu item.

Broadcasters like to use the 2000 census number for Tuscola, which is 714. The population is probably more than that now since the quality of the school district has been improving yearly and Abilene keeps "moving" south. The lower the number, the more they can paint a "hayseed" picture, I guess.

The favorite misunderstood reference to Tuscola I've heard is: "It's probably the only town in Texas without a Dairy Queen."

Well, it's not, of course. There are hundreds of towns in Texas without a DQ, but if I were the DQ powers-that-be, I might think of building one of those belt-busters on the outskirts of town, where highways 83 and 84 "Y" off.

Just the big posters of Colt hanging on the walls should bring in enough traffic to justify the construction. And think of all the free publicity when the announcers can eventually say, "Yeah, and TUSS-koh-LAH finally has a Dairy Queen!"

October 16, 2006

THE LEGEND OF COLT McCOY

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

Yeah, it might be kinda early to use that word "legend" when talking about a quarterback with seven starts under his belt.

Most observers agree Colt McCoy's "real" tenure as starting quarterback for the University of Texas started when play resumed in the second half against Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout. Yes, he and Vince Young are now tied with number of victories over the Sooners.

coltPUBmug.jpg
But years from now when people of the burnt orange variety start reminiscing about the legend behind the man, many of them will no doubt point to the showing against Baylor.

Six touchdown passes in one game! How many quarterbacks at any level can say they did that? Much less a redshirt freshman.

Sure, he called one of those passes "stupid" and would like to have it back (not really), but to paraphrase Forrest Gump ... "stupid is as stupid does," and if it results in a TD, well, accept your luck and go on. Six touchdown passes in one game is as good a place as any for a legend to start.

"He's just so cool under pressure," my wife observed as she watched the game with me Saturday night.

The next day at the Dallas Cowboys game, we wondered why Drew Bledsoe wasn't that calm and collected. As people around us started chanting, "We want Romo!" in the first half before the Cowboys took control of the game, just for grins I yelled, "We want Colt McCoy!"

So, if seasons down the road there is a cool, calm and collected No. 12 starting for the Cowboys, just remember it was my idea first - way back when the Cowboys played in Texas Stadium and the Longhorns were led by a freshman from Tuscola, Texas.

October 14, 2006

A REAL SPORTS HERO

By Danny Reagan / Abilene, Texas

Colt McCoy is the breath freshener college sports needs right now.

As the line between college and professional sports gets blurrier and blurrier, and more and more players falling victim to the "what's-in-it-for-me" approach to sports, watching a player who cares about his God, his family and his team (in that order) before he thinks of himself makes this Red Raider root for burnt orange.

colthighschool.jpg
Each time Colt and I met while he was in high school - whether it was interviews for stories for the Abilene Reporter-News or in the hallway of the same church we attended - I was always impressed with his politeness, his class in all situations and his respect for others.

Some opponents may mistake that baby face and quiet demeanor as a weakness of some sort. Don't believe it. Colt is a smart and talented athlete on the football field and a caring and compassionate young man off the field - living Christian values unselfishly.

You may have seen him "give all the glory to God," after the Oklahoma game. Good for him! Life is a gift from God, and certainly Colt's talents are a special gift. There is nothing wrong with a good "thank you," even on national television ... ESPECIALLY on national television.

I've enjoyed the TV announcers' perception of Colt - fascination with his name at first which has changed to respect for his ability at such a young age to keep a cool head during a bull rush.

The scarlet and black of the Texas Tech Red Raiders still flows through this alum's veins, but I find myself checking the TV schedules to also find out when UT plays.

It's not so much I've become a huge fan of the burnt orange, it's that I've become an even bigger fan of their quarterback.

Longhorn fans are enjoying this gift to them. The rest of you should, too.