"It caught me off-guard," Brown admitted, "because nine weeks ago we were still trying to figure out which quarterback was going to start."
But the subject resurfaced after McCoy helped orchestrate the second-biggest comeback in program history, rallying Texas from a 21-point deficit at Texas Tech en route to a 35-31 fantastic finish. It capped a month-long, season-defining stretch that Longhorns dubbed 'Red October' because three opponents (Oklahoma, Nebraska, Texas Tech) represented the strength of the conference schedule and wear some shade of red.
"Colt has surprised everybody," Brown said, "except probably himself. The thing that has improved the most is his confidence and the ability to get people to follow him. All of a sudden, he's become this great leader on our football team."
For now, McCoy is a virtual lock as the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year. The current Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week and Walter Camp National Player of the Week has already broken school records for freshman single-game passings TDS (six), freshman single-season passing TDs and is on pace to break Major Applewhite's mark (2,390 yards) for freshman single-season total offense. What's more, McCoy could break the school record for single-season passing TDs (26) before halftime Saturday against Oklahoma State. His 166.6 passer rating is No. 7 nationally and his 24 TDs currently rank as the third-most by a freshman in NCAA history.
"If you look at all he's accomplished, he has to be a guy on the (Hesiman) Watch List. He's answered every bell."
But give McCoy half-a-chance to call attention to himself, McCoy invariably defers credit to teammates, coaches and God. He worked all summer establishing chemistry with Longhorn WRs, especially SE Limas Sweed. He devotes at least 15 additional hours to studying game film each week. Overall, the success on the field stems from the lofty standards McCoy typically sets for himself.
"I've always had high expectations for myself," McCoy said. "I've always wanted to be the best I could be. Right now, things are falling into place and we're winning. That's the most important thing. I just want to be a winner. I want to play with my teammates and do the right thing."
McCoy was a two-time first-team all stater but flew under the national radar because he was from a 2A program and because he was overshadowed by super-prep QB Ryan Perrilloux. The current LSU backup, of course, committed to Texas in July, 2004 but changed his commitment on Signing Day.
"I wanted to come to Texas whether Ryan came or didn't come," McCoy said. "Even if the both of us were here, I was going to go in there expecting it to be my job. That's how I go about everything. I knew that if I had a shot, if I had a fair chance to be the quarterback, I felt like I had a chance to be that. I wasn't scared about that. I wasn't going to back down. I wasn't going to de-commit. I knew I wanted to come to Texas."
But few, outside of the Lone Star State, knew about McCoy.
"We saw all the tangibles," Brown said, "but you can't measure someone's presence in the huddle, you can't measure leadership or toughness in high school. We think his ability to win games in high school continues to show. When a guy lost only two games in his career until he got here, he thinks he's going to continue to win games. We think that's significant."
The other thing coaches are now seeing from McCoy is his ability to scramble. A prime example is his late fourth-quarter 33-yard scamper to seal the deal in Lubbock.
"We didn't see that in the spring," Brown said. "That's come from more confidence and the feel of 'when to' and 'when not to'...We're seeing the confidence that none of us knew he had. And we should have known that in recruiting because he was a guy who didn't blink about any other QB coming here. He said he always wanted to come to Texas, and he didn't care who else was going to be here."
McCoy's world changed virtually overnight following Texas' 28-10 over Oklahoma. Following in the footsteps of Major Applewhite, Peter Gardere and James Brown in the succession of Texas quarterbacks to beat OU during his freshman campaign, McCoy is stopped several times each day on campus by autograph-seekers and picture-takers.
The one constant is that his father remains his biggest supporter and toughest critic. Following McCoy's 324 yards and four TDs against Tech, his father told him after the game: "You really threw five touchdowns, didn't you? Four to your teammates and one to the other team."
Otherwise, the accolades will continue to surface for Texas' unassuming and unflappable freshman QB as well as additional nicknames. Presumably, his favorite is the one SLB Robert Killebrew gave him shortly after the Oklahoma game: Colt .45. For now, nearly every knowledgeable college football fan knows that Colt is the real McCoy.
TEXAS SINGLE-SEASON PASSING TDs
1. Vince Young 26 2005
Chris Simms 26 2002
3. Colt McCoy 24 2006
4. Chris Simms 22 2001
5, Major Applewhite 21 1999
TEXAS CAREER-PASSING TDs
1. Major Applewhite 60 1998-2001
2. Chris Simms 58 1999-2002
3. James Brown 53 1994-1997
4. Vince Young 44 2003-2005
5. Peter Gardere 37 1989-1992
6. Bobby Layne 25 1944-1947
Shea Morenz 25 1993-94
8. Colt McCoy 24 2006 -
9. Bret Stafford 22 1985-87
10. Todd Dodge 18 1983-85