Mock brings to the table an enviable array of press clippings. He was a Parade All-American in high school, and has directed the second-team since last spring, yet his presence is barely a blip on the radar screen of the Longhorn Nation.
"Chance is one snap away from playing," head coach Mack Brown said. "That's something people don't think about."
Think about this: if recent history is an indication, the back-up QB could be pressed into action sooner than you expect. During at least seven of the past eight seasons, the back-up signal-caller was suddenly pressed into action because the starting QB was injured.
YEAR QB GAME INJURED
2001 Chris Simms Big 12 championship
2000 Major Applewhite Texas Tech
1999 Major Applewhite Texas A&M (illness), Cotton Bowl
1998 Richard Walton UCLA
1997 James Brown Rutgers (Brown never fully recovered from foot injury)
1995 James Brown TCU (played heroically with shoulder injury against A&M)
1994 Shea Morenz Colorado
(NOTE: I have suppressed the 1991-1993 seasons into the deep recesses of my unconscious, preferring instead to live in denial)
But there's no denying the likelihood that Mock will play early against North Texas in the Aug. 31 season opener against North Texas. While there is absolutely no thought of rotating QBs this year, Brown said Mock may take the field during the third offensive series regardless of the score.
"That's something we did with Major (Applewhite) and Chris (Simms)," the head coach said. "We need to get Chance into the game at a time when it (the outcome) still really matters. And it's critical that Chance is a guy who needs to come on fast."
Mock's preseason passing percentage was hardly comforting. In three scrimmages, Mock was 10-of-28 for 127 yards and one touchdown.
But take comfort in the fact he was tossing primarily to inexperienced receivers barely old enough to vote while facing (with apologies to the Sports Illustrated cover-boys from Norman) the toughest defense and deepest secondary he will battle all year. And one thing Mock does quicker than any Texas QB in recent memory is throw the ball out-of-bounds when he's in trouble so that he lives to see another day. While it can be argued that Mock is too quick to abandon the pass, Mock is also a big ol' boy who is not hesitant to tuck the ball and scramble for a yard or two rather than take the loss.
By and large, Brown has lauded the performance of both Mock and Simms throughout two-a-days (third string QB Matt Nordgren looks like, well, the third strong QB). One can recall a chilly, late afternoon last February when so many of Mock's passes fluttered harmlessly to the ground around so many experienced receivers. It provides a stark contrast to the relatively more effective Mock that directed the offense in the near triple-digit heat of August.
"Chance Mock is 100 miles ahead of where he was last spring," Brown said. "He's one of the most improved players we've got. It's important that we give him every snap we can give him. We need to get him in a pressure situation."
For now, let's get him in early against North Texas. Mock obviously does not have Simms' experience nor innate potential. But my impression is that, if pressed into duty, Mock will be solid but not spectacular. He strikes me as the kind of kid who, at this juncture, may not be able to carry the team on his shoulders but who will not lose the game for you. (For some reason, he reminds me of 1983 Texas QB Rob Moerschell). Mock doesn't have to be second coming of Bobby Layne. For that matter, neither does Simms. Their job, frankly, is to delegate; to get the ball into the hands of the most amazing array of offensive skill players in recent memory at the Forty Acres, or throw the ball into the cheap seats.
And with Brown continuing to gush that the offensive line and running game is operating at its highest level in his tenure, chances are you can forget about Chance. Again.