This wasn't your typical season opener. No, if last season's 60-3 laugher was the kickoff to the glorious 2005 season, the game against North Texas was played in 1 A.V. (After Vince). As much as that angle has been talked about, it really was the story of the day. How would this team play and look in their first post-Vince contest. While that story extends to the whole team, let's start with the men seeking to fill his shoes under center.
Not a bad debut for Mr. McCoy, eh? Back on August 19th, after the Saturday morning scrimmage, I wrote, "McCoy started with the first team offense, moved the ball well, looked very, very comfortable and poised with his reads, and delivered the ball exactly where he should have. Just judging from his presence, decision-making, and performance, you'd not guess he's a freshman."
I felt the exact same way yesterday. Didn't you? I counted 1 truly bad pass, 2 so-so passes, 12 completions, and 3 drops by receivers on balls that should have been caught. 178 yards and 3 TDs is a fantastic debut, and as mentioned, there was only really one bally that could have been intercepted.
I thought that McCoy was aiming his passes a little bit at times, but I'm really nibbling here. It was his debut, and he'll improve on this, but there were moments when you knew exactly where the ball was going by where McCoy was looking, along with his body angle, and so on. Against North Texas, it didn't matter much - the advantage our receivers enjoyed against their defenders was tremendous. But that's something McCoy will have to avoid against faster, more talented, defense. Like, say, Ohio State's.
Still, that was a minority of his throws, and overall he looked far better than almost any redshirt freshman I've ever seen. I loved his poise and presence, and while those kinds of intangibles are sometimes overblown when you're talking about whether a guy will translate into being a good pro or not, it's useful when you're trying to evaluate whether a 19 year old kid is ready to step in and lead your collegiate team. Well, McCoy's got it. And for his entire body of work, I don't think you can give him anything less than an A+.
Ah, and what about Jevan Snead? One thing we can say for sure is that there is no McSnead situation developing here. You have to love Snead's skill set, but the collegiate game is still well ahead of him right now. You can see it even in the nervous energy he exudes while plays are being called in from the sideline. The calmness that McCoy is feeling is a nervousness for Snead right now.
Now, let's be sure we clarify that. Snead isn't scared out there, and he's absolutely confident. For all that confidence, though, there's a nervous energy that comes with learning to play at this new, faster level. It's totally natural, and expectations that he be further along in his development are misguided and pointless. He's 18, just out of high school, and learning this new game. And doing fine.
The only point that needs to be made is that he's well behind McCoy right now. And that's that. There's no controversy. McCoy's the guy, and Snead's the backup.
For his performance, there were flashes of those big time skills that made Snead a prized recruit, but he's making 18 year old mistakes. The interception, which Shipley maybe should have caught, was indeed thrown behind the reciever. There was one keep on the zone read that should have gone to the running back. A number of small mistakes out there, and still too much thinking as he adjusts to things, but he's coming along. All in all, he was okay in limited work, but it's clear at this point that an injury to McCoy against or before Ohio State means trouble.
Snead's final line: 3 of 7 passing for 20 yards, with 1 INT. 3 rushes for 11 yards. He had one ball dropped that should have been caught, and the interception perhaps shouldn't have slipped through Shipley's hands. All told, for a true freshman debut, it was about par for the course - we'll give him a B.
Next up: the tailbacks