"We weren't getting things done in the first quarter and it was because of me," McCoy said. "The offensive line gave me a good pocket and I was getting happy feet. It wasn't pretty at first, but then we came out and played great."
Was there a post-OU hangover?
"Always," Texas coach Mack Brown said.
McCoy finished with 21-of-32 passing for 275 yards while WR Billy Pittman proved that he wasn't dead. The junior has caught passes in each of the past six games, but few were of the explosive variety that gave rise to his nickname Big Play. That changed Saturday. Texas' first score came courtesy of Pittman's 24-yard TD grab on a crossing pattern just 1:14 into the second quarter. He added a 62-yard TD reception near the end of the third quarter. One of McCoy's best attributes is his ability to feel the pressure. He picked up the blitz on that 3rd-and-three route from the 38 by hitting Pittman on the quick out. Pittman tight-roped the right sideline and then took it to the house, making it a 42-17 ballgame.
"It was the same play that everybody cussed last week against Oklahoma," Brown quipped.
McCoy notched his sixth TD pass with 6:35 remaining. That's when he hooked up with SE Limas Sweed on a right sidelines pass, the catch-and-run good for 50 yards. Sweed led the horns with 98 yards on six receptions, including two TDs. Halfway through the 2006 schedule, McCoy has equaled the single-season mark for TD passes by a Longhorn freshman that Major Applewhite set in 1998.
"We beat ourselves more than he beat us," said Wilson. "If you want to give it to him you can. I am not bitter or anything like that. He used the momentum on their side and got the scores that they needed. That much I will give to him. If I was a betting man, I would bet anything that our defense would beat their offense any day of the week."
Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis, however, gave McCoy plenty of constructive criticism at half time. Davis told him that he got lucky with his second-quarter TD toss to TE Jermichael Finley. Wilson had position on Finley in the back of the north end zone but, for the second straight home game, the taller Finley ripped the ball from a DBs hands for the score.
"I also told him that on his interception they had a better call than I did," Davis said. "I thought that formation would give us a single safety,"
In fact, Baylor tried to rattle McCoy by showing more two-deep zone and blitzes than Texas expected. But evidence of McCoy's maturity is the fact that two TEs caught TD passes, including Peter Ullman's scoring reception near the end of the second quarter. Typically, TEs are typically the third or fourth option when McCoy goes through his progressions.
"It's important when you play a two-deep zone that your tight ends shake loose for you," Davis noted.
Offensively, the Horns were without starting RG Cedric Dockery who is out for the season (torn ACL). Senior Justin Blalock slid inside while RS-freshman Adam Ulatoski logged his first start at RT. Defensively, Texas was bereft of three starters: RCB Tarell Brown (toe), FS Marcus Griffin (ankle) and DT Frank Okam (knee). Trainers, however, said Okam "probably" could have played Saturday. Freshman Ken Beasley notched his first career start at LCB (although coaches flip-flopped Beasley and RCB Aaron Ross throughout the ballgame). Sophomore Roy Miller filled in for Okam and produced the second sack of his career.
For the defense, it was a night when (given your perspective) the glass was either half-full or half-empty (given the opponent) of Dr. Pepper.
On one hand, the defense forced five turnovers, scored twice, tallied five sacks and held Baylor to 27 net yards rushing (on just 11 attempts). When the Texas offense was going nowhere but sideline-to-sideline, the defense turned the tide in the second quarter by producing three three-and-outs and forcing three turnovers, including FS Matt Melton's 34-yard INT return for TD. On the other hand, the defense gave up a season-high 31 points while QB Shawn Bell picked his spots by completing 26-of-48 for 320 yards. If anything, it continued to expose the lack of depth in the Longhorn secondary. To compensate, Chizik showed more zone blitzes, more nickel package and more late shifts (down linemen moved, linebackers crept in) Saturday than in any other game this season.
"Obviously, we've got things we've got to go back and work on and fix," Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik said. "Any time you're that inconsistent, you have to go back and fix some things. It was back and forth, but we'd like it to be a little more consistent. We'll start back on work with that on Tuesday."
LCB Aaron Ross predicted a week from hell with Chizik.
"We're hard on ourselves," Ross said, "and that wasn't the Texas defensive standard tonight. We had a lot of plays that I wish we could get back. But we came out with a victory, and I'm proud of that."
Individually, DE Tim Crowder had 2.5 sacks that included two forced fumbles. His fist sack/fumble helped spark Texas' second-quarter uprising; his other sack/fumble resulted in MLB Robert Killebrew's 31-yard return for TD to make it 56-24.
Texas' ground game is by no means explosive, but it is relatively productive. The Horns netted 162 yards on 37 attempts. Jamaal Charles led all rushers with 65 yards on 14 carries. The past two ball games, the sophomore moved past RB Priest Holmes and QB Donnie Little on Texas' all-time list with 1,341 career yards (UT No. 28).
Texas had shut out Baylor three of the past four ballgames, but the Bears scored on their first snap of the ballgame. It came on a deep post to WR Trent Shelton, who blew past Melton (the fifth-year senior was making just is third career start) The Bears opened in two-TE set out of the I-formation, a look they never used again.
Things got worse before they got better. A holding penalty on SLB Robert Killebrew sustained Baylor's second series. Texas came with a zone blitz on 3rd-and-four from the 10, forcing a Shawn Bell incompletion. The Bears tacked on a 27-yard FG to jump to a 10-0 with 6:08 remaining in the opening frame.
"We just came out flat," Pittman said, following a week when every Horn insisted Baylor had his undivided attention. "That's something we have to figure out before we play Nebraska."
A personal foul on Tully Janszen following a 39-yard Greg Johnson punt on Texas' third series spotted Baylor at the Longhorn 43. At this point, Baylor was running the Texas Tech offense better than Texas Tech this year.
But true freshman CB Deon Beasley, making his first collegiate start in place of Tarell Brown (toe), came up with a great PBU against veteran WR Dominique Ziegler on 1st-and-10 from the Horns 43. It set the tone for the series, resulting in Baylor's first three-and-out of the ballgame.
The Horns picked up two first downs behind Charles (19 yards on three carries during this drive) before McCoy tossed his third INT of the season (courtesy of LCB James Todd). But that's when the Longhorn defense took matters in hand. On the first play of the second quarter, DE Tim Crowder forced a Bell fumble at the tail end of a nine-yard QB sack. NT Derek Lokey made the recovery at the Bruin 29. Baylor brought the house on 3rd-and-five, but McCoy found Pittman on a crossing pattern, who angled toward the left sideline and then darted in from 24 yards out. Texas was finally on the scoreboard with at the 13:46 mark of the second frame.
Hunter Lawrence lost his redshirt when he kicked off following Texas' first TD. He became the ninth true freshman to play for Texas this season. Earlier this week, Greg Johnson suffered a strain in his kicking leg, convincing Brown that handling all three phases of the kicking game has begun to take its toll on the senior. Lawrence is expected to handle kickoffs the rest of the season. He had five touchbacks and averaged 62.5 per kickoff during his collegeiate debut.
Baylor drew three yellow flags on their next series (false start. holding, delay), resulting in a 38-yard Daniel Sepulveda punt from the back of his end zone.
Charles stepped off 14 yards on an option toss, setting up 1st-and-goal from the six, on Texas' next drive. But SE Limas Sweed's personal foul on third down pushed Texas back to the 16. Here's where TE Jermichal Finley gave us one more glimpse of things to come. The RS-freshman went up top and ripped the ball from Wilson's grasp (reminiscent of his TD grab against Iowa State) in the back of the north end zone, capping an 11-play, 45-yard drive. It gave Texas its first lead, and temporarily restored order to the universe, with 6:16 remaining until halftime.
Next Baylor series, Texas brought the house on 1st-and-10 from the 30. Bell's hurried toss landed squarely in Melton's mitts, who cashed in from 34 yards out. The Bears had a chance to answer when Mikail Baker collected Hunter's boot four yards deep and returned it 58 yards the Texas 42 (Erick Jackson made the tackle). A roused Longhorn defense saw Ross drop Ziegler for loss of 10 on the first-down backwards pass. Two plays later, SS Michael Griffin leveled a terrific blow against WR Thomas White, forcing a fumble following a short reception that MLB Rashad Bobino recovered at the 37 and advanced five yards. With 3:59 remaining, McCoy's quick-seam toss to Sweed picked up 20 on second down Texas called its last timeout with 58 ticks remaining and facing 3rd-and-8 from the 22.
The Horns lined up for a 39-yard FG attempt, but holder Jordan Shipley fielded the snap and raced 15 yards around left end for the first down. An Anthony Arline pass interference penalty gave Texas a 1st-and-goal from the two. Next play, McCoy ran a bootleg to the right sideline and hit TE Peter Ullman in the back of the north end zone for Texas' 28th unanswered point. (FB Chris Ogbonnaya was also wide open in the right corner of the north end zone). The Horns took a 28-10 lead into the locker room.
Baylor picked on Beasley throughout the game, but it was particularly conspicuous on their opening drive of the second half. Bell completed 4-of-7 for 58 yards, but the TD came when WR Dominique Zeigler faked the reverse and threw back across the field to a wide open Bell to cap the 10-play drive and draw within 28-17.
"If you play a true freshman, they're always going to know where he is." Chizik said. "They have some really good receivers that he had to cover tonight."
Texas immediately answered, moving the chains on two key third-down conversions: a 21-yard Quan Cosby grab on 3rd-and-18 and a 19-yard completion to Nate Jones when the Horns needed six from the Baylor 38. Next play, McCoy found Sweed over the middle on the drag route to complete the 12-pay, 78-yard march.
RB Paul Mosley scored from 56 yards out on the last play of the third quarter to keep Baylor within range, 42-24, and to keep Jevan Snead on the bench for a while longer. Snead checked-in with 5:39 remaining after Tyrell Gatewood forced a Queito Teasley fumble on a KO return, recovered by Matt Melton at the Baylor seven. Two Henry Melton rushes, the second from two yards out, capped the scoring for Texas.
Texas won its 18th straight Big 12 game to extend its school record. It also sets up a showdown at Nebraska next Saturday, 11 a.m. (CDT), between the leaders of North and South divisions.