McCoy shines against Brownwood. The younger brother of Colt McCoy may not have thrown six touchdown passes against Brownwood, as he did against Bridgeport earlier in the season, and he may not have gotten off to a strong start, but he did show why Texas chose to recruit him -- once again, it's not a case of nepotism, as Case McCoy is a talented quarterback in his own right. Pressured early by Brownwood's defense, which includes the younger brother of safety Kenny Vaccaro, McCoy struggled to find a rhythm ($) and suffered from two dropped touchdown passes by his favorite target, wide receiver Dylan Fulford.
Even the final, should-have-been-game-tying drive didn't start well, as the Brownwood defense sacked McCoy on each of the first two plays, letting time tick off the clock -- the drive started with 2:21 left and Graham had no timeouts. An incomplete pass on third down forced McCoy and his teammates to convert a 4th and 19 to keep their hopes alive. Much like Vince Young against Kansas, McCoy scrambled out of the pocket on the play, broke a tackle and headed for the sideline. As the defense closed around him, McCoy had to go airborne to pick up the final three yards, succeeding in making to the marker.
Said McCoy of the remarkable play ($):
I felt the guy almost grab my horse collar, but I thought I was about to go down and I was like no. If I did the game ends. I had to make a play. It was fourth and long, and I got those two sacks right off the bat and it was kind of frustrating, but we made a play and gave ourselves a chance.
Eight plays later, Graham had to convert another fourth down, with McCoy once again rolling out of the pocket, but this time finding a receivr in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass, finishing the evening 24 of 37 for 407 yards and four touchdowns.
Of course, Brownwood junior linebacker Derek Longoria didn't care for the game to go into overtime, blocking the game-tying extra point with eight seconds left to preserve the 28-27 victory in the only battle of McCoy versus Shipley to date. Perhaps a rematch will fall to the next generation.
According to IT's Jeff Howe ($), the game demonstrated just how well McCoy understands the quarterback position, not surprising given his pedigree. Much like his brother, McCoy throws the ball well on the run, as he showed on the late touchdown pass. Also like his brother, McCoy is athletic for his position and can make plays running the football, as he showed with the big 4th-and-19 run. Again, also like his brother, McCoy will need to spend time in the weight room to add strength to his thin frame -- since Graham is a relatively smal school, McCoy participates in school sports just about the entire year, leaving him little time to devote to building strength. His accuracy and leadership abilities are more traits he shares with Colt.
However, despite all those positives, McCoy does have areas in which he can improve. Howe found that his mechanics broke down when standing in the pocket and delivering passes early in the game and he sometimes fails to protect the football with both hands. The other area of concern is the deep ball, as his passes downfield tended to come out wobbly and often hung in the air too long. In fact, a great number of McCoy's passes are a little wobbly -- spinning the football is not his strong suit. As Howe mentioned, spending more time in the weight room will help his arm strength just as it helped his brother and by the time that Texas might need him to play after several years in the program, throwing the ball downfield should be much less of a problem. While the younger McCoy may struggle to beat out a better athlete in Connor Wood, if the example of his older brother means anything at all, it's dangerous to underestimate a McCoy, even if they are skinny as hell coming out of high school.
Shipley impressive against Graham. Eight catches. Two hundred forty-five yards. Two touchdowns. That just about sums up the type of night that Jaxon Shipley had against his close friend, Case McCoy. In addition to all the catches and all the yards, he also completed a pass for 35 yards. Don't look for him to make a switch to the quarterback position any time soon, though, as Shipley simply understands the receiver position too well. No doubt a lot of that is due to soaking up all the information he can from his older brother -- every report on the younger Shipley talks about just how well he runs his routes, catches the ball with his hands, elevates in traffic for the football.
Against Brownwood, Shipley showed all those skills, catching a pass along the sidelines in between two defenders and using his strong hands to pull it in past the hands of a defender. He showed his speed on a go route that resulted in a 61-yard touchdown catch. He showed his ability to get into and out of cuts. On another play, he showed his ability to elevate in traffic again, with his second touchdown catch coming in between three defenders.
If there is one concern, it may be his ball security -- in randomly catching the highlights of the game on Fox Sports, Shipley fumbled the ball after a catch because he was attempting to make a move with the ball not not protected against his body, but with only one point of contact, his hand, instead of the preferred three -- hand, forearm, chest. It's impossible to say if that is a consistent problem, but on that play Shipley failed to demonstrate good ball security. Though he's taller than his brother, he doesn't have the elite top-end speed ($) that characterized Jordan in high school, though after all the leg injuries the gap probably isn't as wide as it was, though Jordan has now regained most of his speed from high school.
Despite that issue, there's a reason Shipley comes in at 11 on the latest 2011 LSR and it's not because of his older brother -- it's because he's an excellent football player in his own right and exceptionally polished for a receiver his age.
Cotton no Taylor Bible. That much is probably obvious given the discrepancy in hype surrounding the two Texas defensive tackle commits for 2010, but what is slightly less obvious is that not being Bible isn't such a bad thing or even a condemnation of Cotton and his skills. Even though Alief Taylor defensive tackle and Texas commit De'Aires Cotton isn't as explosive into the backfield as Bible or even the other defensive tackle commit, Tyler's Ashton Dorsey, since he has a different skill set, he's a good fit in this recruiting class. In fact, he's probably a perfect fit next to the two more explosive players.
What Cotton does extremely well is hold his position ($) despite facing constant double teams. He's extremely thickly built, with a little bit of bad weight around his midsection, but not much -- he also possesses a significant amount of raw strength that allows him to generally maintain his position even with poor technique, often coming off the ball high and failing to keep his feet moving on contact, a common problem for high school defensive tackles. In college, that will be a problem for him -- he'll get pushed off the line of scrimmage almost immediately. Explosiveness off the ball is also an area for improvement if he wants to be a three-down defensive tackle for Will Muschamp and excel in pass-rushing situations.
Cotton is not the gap-shooting type of defensive tackle, like Bible, but he does separate well from offensive linemen by using his hands, while also displaying the type of motor coaches like to see in their linemen -- he doesn't give up on plays or have trouble pursuing because he carries too much weight.
Howe compares Cotton to Roy Miller because of his ability to hold a gap and take on multiple offensive linemen, but a better comparison might be a taller, more physically gifted Ben Alexander because Cotton projects as a run stuffer in college, much like Alexander. To me, the Miller comparison just doesn't work because Miller was far more than just a run stuffer -- he had the ability to consistently get into the backfield and cause havoc.
Both Bible and Dorsey might be able to contribute next year as true freshmen, but Cotton will probably need a year or two in the program to work on his explosiveness and better understand how to come off the ball low and keep his feet moving to collapse the pocket back on quarterbacks, the main priority for Muschamp defensive tackles in passing situations. In the end, though, Cotton should eventually take up the blockers to allow Bible and Dorsey to shoot gaps next to him and get into the backfield to disrupt plays.
Could Tech ever land a running back like Sims? Abilene running back Herschel Sims attended his second Texas Tech football game ($) of the season last weekend, watching the Red Raiders inexplicably lose to the Aggies. Just like many of Colt McCoy's friends from Tuscola ended up in Lubbock, many of Sims' classmates and friends will become index-finger waving Raiders.
Sims didn't exactly gush about the visit, noting that Tech runs the ball "occasionally," but that he thinks highly of the coaches. Given the fact that Leach is prone to abandoning the running game and only runs several running plays anyway given all the receivers in the offense, what are the chances that an incredibly talented back like Sims could end up in Lubbock?
To this point in Leach's tenure at Tech, the answer is that the chances probably aren't good. Leach managed to use Baron Batch effectively last season, but has once again gone back to passing almost every play. No doubt Eric Stephens and Harrison Jeffers will suffere similar neglect as their careers progress.
Running backs want carries. In the case of larger backs, they absolutely need carries to wear down the defense. Sims, however, probably fits the mold of an ideal Red Raider running back better than most -- he's so quick that he can make defenses pay on draw plays and particularly screens, and his receiving ability would allow Leach to line him up as a receiver and use him with another running back in Tech's two-back sets.
Unfortunately for Leach, as well as Sims would fit in his system -- if he could commit to the running game more than "occasionally" -- the top two teams for Sims are Texas and Oklahoma, teams that he watched go against each other ($) in the Cotton Bowl:
Just being there actually was amazing. It was a great feeling. The atmosphere was great. It was a good game and good place to be.
I was going back and forth. They're both good teams. I really wasn't going for a certain one in particular. They're both great teams. I just wanted to see a good game.
So despite the recent visits to Austin, the Sooners and Longhorns are still going back and forth in the mind of the talented running back. From his earlier comments ($), his appreciation for Adrian Peterson, a running back to whom he compares himself in running hard every play, is a big factor in the feelings that he has for Oklahoma -- just another indication of how much losing Peterson has hurt the Longhorns in recruiting running backs and how much it continues to be a problem for them. It's probably safe to say that Peterson accounts for a lot of the positive feelings that Malcolm Brown and Bradley Marquez have for Oklahoma as well.
In that way, it's unfortunate that the perceptions of the OU-Texas rivalry were what they were at the time, leading Peterson to head to Norman for an opportunity to win that crystal football. And this is where I once again catch myself day-dreaming of how ridiculously unfair it would have been for AD and VY to have been in the same backfield running the zone read. And no, I'm not crying right now, I was just cutting some onions for dinner.
From the Land of Miscellany. Jordan Hicks did not make it to Alabama last weekend and still has not scheduled a visit to USC, saying that he is focusing right now on finishing his football season. Hicks said that he has no favorite, but it's hard not to believe that the Longhorns are in a great position with him...Dulles safety Sheroid Evans injured his shoulder ($) and left last weekend's game against Fort Bend Elkins, but was able to attend the OU-Texas game. He says that he does not have any favorites ($), but does want to run track in college, citing Texas, LSU, and Texas A&M as three programs that have good track and football programs. Evans added that he would like the major in engineering...Lancaster linebacker has moved up the 2011 LSR recently, going from his debut position of 48th to 25th on the latest edition. He also revealed that his father went to Oklahoma ($) and says he might become a Sooner if he lands an offer from Oklahoma, but said that he's always been a fan of Texas Tech and that his mother wants him to go to Texas for the education. Despite the feelings of his mother, Brown did not list Texas among his favorites, a list that included Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Oregon. It's probably going to be an uphill battle for Brown if Texas chooses to pursue him.