The wild ride continues for the Texas Longhorns (6-2, 5-0).
Following their 1-2 start, which included defensive implosions against BYU and Ole Miss, the Longhorns have seemingly reinvented their season. With five straight wins, all in the Big 12, Texas sits atop the conference with its conference title hopes perfectly intact.
With starting quarterback David Ash missing more and more time with lingering concussion symptoms, senior Case McCoy has filled in nicely, providing a heavy dose of veteran presence for an offense that is very capable and potent.
Texas has found its shoes in the running game, but McCoy's ability to deliver, somewhat accurately, the deep ball has been the missing ingredient for an offense that has weapons all around.
But as Texas has been extending its winning streak, the conversation about McCoy has become muddled with talk of the 'Horns defense.
Behind an ever-improving unit under coordinator Greg Robinson, who replaced Manny Diaz at the position following the loss to BYU, Texas is playing with an incredible amount of passion, discipline and focus, characteristics that have the 'Horns allowing 18.2 points per game (No. 1 in Big 12).
So as the Longhorns' conference title aspirations, and effectively BCS potential, who would be to blame for their season of good fortune?
If McCoy is the answer, then Texas has been using the wrong quarterback for over two seasons.
No, if the Longhorns reach the BCS, it will have been on the back of a defensive group that has everything to prove.
The BCS Quarterback
Forget the tenure of the entire BCS—let's examine a sample of the quarterback make-up from some of the top-rated teams in the rankings at the end of the season from 2010 to 2012.
2012: Consider Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Texas A&M
The Tide marched (rolled?) to yet another national title, but it came on the shoulders of a devastating defensive unit in front of a game-managing quarterback in AJ McCarron, who threw just three interceptions all year to 30 touchdowns. Heisman conversation.
Oregon's Marcus Mariota threw six interceptions to 32 touchdowns. Plus, Oregon's offense over the past half-decade has been otherworldly. Mariota has been in the Heisman conversation for the past two seasons.
Kansas State's BCS run last season, which ended against the Ducks, came with an always-stout Bill Snyder defense with one of the most physical quarterbacks in the FBS in Colin Klein. Heisman conversation.
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel needs to introduction, but there is always room in the BCS for the Heisman winner.
2011: Consider LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma State
The Tigers rode a stiff defensive unit and a running game that carried the ball twice more than their passing game.
Alabama, same story, different chapter.
The Cowboys have been sustaining themselves as an offensive power for the past few seasons, but their peak arguably came in 2011 when quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for more than 4,700 yards, about one-third of which went to Justin Blackmon.
2010: Consider TCU and Wisconsin
The Horned Frogs ran the ball nearly twice as much as they threw it in 2010, but Andy Dalton proved to have the moxie and capabilities to perform at a very high level for TCU throughout the year. Dalton's 27-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio is great quality for a Gary Patterson team that is built around physicality, defense and discipline.
Wisconsin had a very similar make-up in 2010. The Badgers posted 600 more rushing yards than they did passing yards that season, and behind a triple-headed ground attack featuring James White, John Clay and Montee Ball, quarterback Scott Tolzien merely needed to manage games. A 72.9 completion percentage to go with 16 touchdowns and six interceptions is hardly stuff of legend, and McCoy's numbers this season pale in comparison to Tolzien's 2010. Who?
There are two truths to take from the above layouts: Texas does not offer a dominant defense and Texas does not offer a quarterback who can carry his team offensively. The running game is almost there, but Texas has nothing on 2010 Wisconsin or even 2012 Alabama.
The Real McCoy
There is Colt, and then there is Case.
The former was blessed with incredibly confidence and moxie, but his accurate arm and awareness in the open field ultimately allowed him to set records during his tenure at Texas.
Case harbors that same confidence and moxie, but his physical limitations, touch and almost cavalier approach are what make him such a volatile possibility on offense. What you see is what you get, and that means enough of the good to go with the bad.
If Texas fielded a dominant defense or an even more so dominant running game, this may be an entirely different conversation. But without either of those two pieces, the fact is that McCoy's volatility is too unstable for reliability in the BCS picture.
The Bottom Line
If the Longhorns do reach the BCS, it will because of their running game and their improving defense. McCoy's veteran presence is great, but the spark that we saw toward the beginning of the five-game winning streak is fading.
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