The Texas coaching staff is adamant in its conviction that the Longhorns have a quarterback on their roster who can lead them in 2012.
“We’ve got a quarterback,” Texas co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “Absolutely.”
This came after one of those quarterbacks, Case McCoy, threw four interceptions, had a mishandled snap and had a woefully underthrown deep pass against a defense ranked 114th in the country.
McCoy was the starter against Baylor for two reasons: David Ash could not take care of the ball and McCoy had managed a game-winning drive in which he was 3-of-4 for 13 yards and had a 25-yard scramble against Texas A&M.
What Texas now has to figure out is which one is the real McCoy: The player who managed the game against the Aggies? Or the player who fell apart in a shootout against one of the best offenses in college football?
Regardless of which one it is, according to Harsin, “Right now, Case is [the starting quarterback in 2012]. Absolutely.”
Texas does have two quarterbacks committed to the program, Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet. Both were recruited by Harsin.
Harsin has been absolute in his conviction before about who the starting quarterback. He picked Garrett Gilbert to start the season. That lasted less than six quarters. McCoy’s first stint as a starter last three games. Ash started the next five games before Harsin reinstalled McCoy as the quarterback for the final two games.
The only thing in this quarterback situation that seems truly absolute is that things change.
What hasn’t changed is that Texas does not have a quarterback who can manage in a high-scoring, pass-heavy offense. That makes things difficult in the Big 12, which is a high-scoring, pass-heavy conference.
The Baylor game was the perfect example. McCoy had to throw the ball 39 times and had four picks. McCoy’s previous high in attempts was 27 against Texas A&M. He avoided an interception there only due to the stellar play and quick hand of Jaxon Shipley. Prior to those two games, McCoy’s high for attempts was 16. And he had no interceptions.
Similarly when Ash was asked to throw the ball 40 times against Oklahoma State, he had two interceptions. In fact, Ash averaged an interception for every 19 attempts and in every game in which he threw 18 or more passes he was intercepted.
What all that means is neither quarterback was ready for the game to placed on their shoulders. But due to the injuries to the top three running backs in the last five weeks, that was the case.
Now Texas has to wait and see if those shoulders become wider in the offseason. Harsin believes they will.
“It’s just a matter of going back and reevaluating the situations and learning from them,” Harsin said. “That’s the one thing, experience is huge.”
Texas’ Kenny Vaccaro and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III have been friends for years. So it was only natural the two found each other on the field after the game. And it was only natural that the two discussed their futures.
Each one quizzed the other about their NFL intentions. Both were noncommittal.
“He said he didn’t know yet,” Vaccaro said.
The Texas safety hasn’t definitively made up his mind either. But he has indicated to those around him, that if the money were right, he would head to the NFL.
Vaccaro is not in Mel Kiper’s top 25 draft picks and right now is seen as a late second to third round prospect. But his speed could impress at the combine. It is also not a draft with a stellar safeties, so Vaccaro could move up if he fits a team’s needs.
If Vaccaro does leave for the NFL, and this is a scenario that Texas coach Mack Brown has acknowledged is very possible, the Longhorns will lose both of their starting safeties. Texas will also lose Christian Scott.
That means Mykkele Thompson and Sheroid Evans, two players who did not get a lot of playing time, will be in line to be the starters. Adrian Phillips, a cornerback, could move over and play some safety as well. But beyond those three players, Texas is very thin at the safety position.