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But What About The Children?

As I continue to race to finish all my work at the office, we get some guest bloggers in to help kill the silence. Below is a post from Texas Tech alum and regular BON poster Red Blooded, who takes a look at two new Texas quarterbacks.

In 2006 two Texas universities will open the season with new names under center. Colt McCoy, who had one of the most productive high school careers in state history (4th all time in passing yards), looks to inherit the enviable UT offensive machine. At Texas Tech it is Graham Harrell who will become the 5th new starter in 5 years to lead the high powered offense of football mad scientist Mike Leach.

Colt McCoy, the good:

*    The three headed terrifying beastly backfield of Charles, Melton, and Young. This unit will be good for at least 200 yards of offense per game. For an inexperienced quarterback, there couldn't be a more covetable position. His inexperience is mitigated significantly by the fact that he can hand the ball off early this season to get a tempo for the game without being asked to shoulder too much of the offensive responsibility. It also forces opposing defenses to stack man-mass into the box which creates favorable one on one receiving matchups.

*    UT's defense will not often require McCoy to win the game single handedly. UT will almost always be playing with a lead which further enables them to manage the clock with the ground game. Large deficits can be devastating for young quarterbacks because it forces them to outplay their experience; not every 20 year old kid can be expected to come back from a multiple touchdown deficit against a division 1-A football team. UT is a defensive powerhouse and will simply not allow this to happen.

*    I don't know what your Dad does, but I've got a feeling that if it isn't litigation than you probably know more about that career than I do. My old man is an attorney which means that I might know more than your average bear about how to frustrate the opposing counsel with an effective deposition. Colt McCoy's dad coached football for a living, which means he has a lifetime of experience listening to his old man talk about how to defeat opposing defensive backs, pass rushes, and blitzes. This kid was born into the elite gentry that is Texas Football and by all reasonable indicators has a long, successful career in front of him because of it.

Colt McCoy, the bad:

*    No point downplaying the experience issue. McCoy has never thrown a football in a College game. In his 2nd week of playing he will likely be facing one of the best teams in the nation. How he performs in this game will speak volumes about his potential as a quarterback.

*    He's not Vince Young.

Graham Harrell, the good:

*    While Colt McCoy might be the 4th most prolific quarterback in Texas State history, Graham Harrell owns the Lonestar State career passing record by throwing for an incredible 12 and a half thousand yards at Ennis High School. All things equal, I think Graham Harrell is the more talented quarterback. This doesn't mean he will be the more successful one, but it's something to consider.   

*    Graham Harrell gets the nod for experience, although neither is particularly strong in that department. At the very least Harrell has successfully completed 37 passes for 422 yards in actual College Football games.

*    The Mike Leach experience. Mike Leach is an offensive mastermind who understands the passing game about as well as any College Football coach in the nation. He's going to present Harrell with favorable matchups and open receivers. All Harrell has to do is get them the ball effectively and manage the most prolific passing offense in the NCAA four years running. Even if Graham Harrell is as much of a bust as Cody Hodges, which he won't be, he'll still put up over 4,000 yards in the air. The kid is straight up more talented than Kingsbury, Symmons, Cumbie, or Hodges. For the first time mastermind Mike Leach will have an actual national recruit running his offense.

*    Maybe the best receiving core in the Big 12. Joel Filani, Robert Johnson, and Jarrett Hicks (1st, 3rd, and 5th respectively in Big 12 receiving yards last year) are all returning and should have huge years. All three have proven capable of yards after the catch which means all young Harrell needs to do is get them the ball. All three will shoulder much of the offensive burden, especially early on as Graham Harrell adjusts to the speed of College Football.

*    He's not Cody Hodges.

*    He is also from the Texas High School Football aristocracy (his dad was his coach at Ennis).

Graham Harrell, the bad:

*    Unlike UT, the Texas Tech defense absolutely will force Harrell to win some football games on his own. That's a lot to ask of a 21 year old. Without Big 12 defensive player of the year/all time Big 12 most fumbles forced a season/please shut up already and just let him sleep with your girlfriend Dwayne Slay, our turnover production decreases dramatically. Graham Harrell will be facing longer fields than Cody Hodges.

*    There is no replacing Taurean Henderson. Tech's backfield takes a huge shot as he begins his professional career as a Viking which, incidentally, will likely be Leach's coaching theme this year (supplanting Pirates, yargh). The tech backfield loses an excellent blocker, tenacious runner, and one of the best receiving RBs in the NCAA. Also the guy owned property in the endzone. Graham Harrell will be forced to develop simultaneously with Tech's running game.

*    The Mike Leach experience. The offense is complicated and will ask Harrell to throw the ball 50+ times a game. While Kliff Kingsbury was the last QB to beat the University of Texas, he was also the last quarterback to throw for fewer than 4,000 yards under Mike Leach... as a junior.

I don't want to make a prediction because there's no way it could be construed objectively, as I am Red Raider through and through. I will point out that both our teams enter the 2006 season with inexperience at quarterback. While this typically gives us reasonable cause for concern, it also presents an opportunity. I, for one, am ecstatic for some quarterback continuity at Tech where, for four straight, we've anxiously watched as Mike Leach creates one overachiever after another.

For UT fans, the departure of Vince Young seemingly offers no such big eyed optimism. The man was nothing short of a College Football God and is utterly irreplaceable. Yet, remember that Vince Young was once a young quarterback unworthy of the UT reigns and ultimately developed into one of the greatest players in school history. Colt McCoy is no Vince Young, nor will anyone else likely be. But supposing that McCoy has an incredibly successful career at UT that manifests itself in another championship is hardly Pollyannaism. The Longhorns have the talent to win despite his inexperience long enough for them to ultimately thrive because of his talent. Furthermore, I think Mack Brown has earned the right to have his choice of QBs not constantly second guessed by the peanut gallery. If he picked a winner in Vince, his decision in Colt should be honored until sufficient evidence is presented otherwise. McCoy will likely have a successful career at the University of Texas.

Even if he is no Graham Harrell. (Had to.)