Texas QB making a career out of comebacks
The senior quarterback for No. 3 Texas has led 11 second-half rallies in his 39 career victories, seven of them in the fourth quarter. He has twice pulled Texas back from 21 points down to win, including a 38-35 win at Oklahoma State in 2007 after Texas started the fourth down 35-14.
"I think it says something about really strong character," Texas center Chris Hall said.
The Longhorns (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) and No. 13 Cowboys (6-1, 3-0) clash again in Stillwater on Saturday night. Knowing McCoy's history - and the history of Texas comebacks in general in this lopsided rivalry - maybe the Cowboys should avoid getting a big lead. Texas has won 11 in a row over the Cowboys and had to rally in several with startling comebacks.
In 2004, Vince Young rallied Texas from a 35-7 deficit in the first half to a 56-35 win in Austin. The next year, Texas trailed the Cowboys 28-9 before Young again rallied the Longhorns to a 47-28 victory.
McCoy starting building his record as a comeback king as a freshman in 2006. That season included late road wins at Nebraska and Texas Tech, and against Oklahoma in Dallas and Iowa in the Alamo Bowl.
All three of McCoy's wins over Oklahoma came after the Longhorns trailed at halftime. Against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl last season, Texas was down 21-17 with 1:58 to play before McCoy completed seven passes in the game-winning drive, hitting the final touchdown pass with 16 seconds left.
Of his 11 second-half rallies, perhaps the most impressive part is that 10 have come away from Austin. McCoy says the key is staying loose when the Longhorns fall behind and not trying to get it all back at once.
Against Oklahoma State in 2007, McCoy relaxed the offense when he gave a shoulder shake dance move in the huddle. That was something out of Young's playbook and McCoy got a few laughs.
"You don't have to do things special," McCoy said. "You don't have to make it happen right away. You just have to be under control, and something's going to work out for you in the end."
Texas coach Mack Brown said he and his staff learned long ago how to handle big early deficits.
One of Brown's favorite stories is from his one season as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 1984. The Sooners were losing a game at halftime and he yelled at the players, only to send them back out of the locker room to lose.
On the plane ride home, Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer told Brown a coach must be careful not to convince his players that they could lose.
"You'd better be positive when things are bad," Brown said.
In 2007 in Stillwater, things looked really bad for Texas, so much so that Brown ignored his own advice. Down big early, Brown gave his team a tongue lashing on the sideline that was caught by television cameras.
McCoy stayed calm, despite his own early struggles.
His first pass was intercepted for a touchdown. His fifth pass was intercepted. So was his third pass of the second half. The last one set up Oklahoma State's final touchdown and the Longhorns started the fourth quarter down by 21.
Then came the dance and the rally was on.
What Texas doesn't want is to expect the rally will come every time.
"We have a great confidence in this team because we've won those close games," Brown said. "Our kids feel like they can win each week. The only negative is you do not want them in a position where they are complacent and feel like it's just going to work out. That's the danger."
Wide receiver Jordan Shipley insisted that getting behind is never part of the plan.
"We'd like to get started earlier this time," Shipley said.
On Halloween weekend last season, No. 1 Texas fell behind by 19 at Texas Tech. McCoy and the Longhorns rallied to take the lead with under two minutes left, then lost on a last-second touchdown pass. The loss cost Texas a shot at the Big 12 and national championships.
Not that the quarterback was to blame.
"Colt did his part," Brown said.