Brown: Horns 'Healthier' Than In Weeks

It started in August. Projected starter Drew Kelson. Preseason Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year Sergio Kindle. Then Roddrick Muckelroy early in the season. And Brian Robison. And Marcus Griffin. And Michael Griffin. And Tarell Brown. And Cedric Dockery. And Derek Lokey. And Colt McCoy.

All injured, and all out for various lengths of time, with varying impacts on the success of the season.

But the month-plus break between the Texas A&M game and Saturday's Alamo Bowl has given many of the Horns' walking wounded a chance to heal. Muckelroy, Dockery and Lokey won't be back for the Alamo Bowl, but the rest of the bunch (including Aaron Ross, who is back at practice after his hospitalization last week) may be in their best shape in weeks, if not months.

"I feel like we are healthier right now than we have been since probably the third or fourth week of the season," Mack Brown said Tuesday. "A lot of those guys are running better. I think the Griffins are full speed again for the first time in a long time. We really feel they look better; they look fresh and quick right now."

Perhaps most importantly, McCoy, whose injury on the first series at Kansas State arguably precipitated the Horns' two-game slide to end the regular season, is practicing at 100-percent, according to Brown. And McCoy himself.

Asked if, as his head coach reported Monday, he feels 100-percent, the redshirt freshman QB said, "I do, I feel great. I'm putting the ball where I want to put it accuracy wise, and that was the big question. I'm confident also, that is for me. I want to be out there confident and knowing what I can do, and practicing right now, everything feels great."

Of note, the week of the A&M game, which turned out to be his worst performance of the season, McCoy would not disclose whether he was 100-percent. His strength and accuracy noticeably waned as that game progressed as he took more and more hits from the Aggies (even before the cheap shot and then helmet-to-helmet hit that sent him off the field on a cart in the game's final minutes).

Now, McCoy says, "I can take a hit. I'm fine; I've been released. I've put the injury behind me and I'm ready to go and to step forward and to play like I have been every game."

After McCoy's first two days of full-contact practice since before the Aggie game, Limas Sweed diagnosed his quarterback's health.

"He looks like the old Colt, maybe even a little better," Sweed said Tuesday. "He is out there throwing a deep ball and intermediate routes. He just looks like the old Colt again."

The "old Colt" -- pre-A&M game, that is -- put up Heisman-worthy numbers, throwing for over 2,000 yards and 27 TDs versus just four INTs and hitting receivers on a wide variety of routes, short, intermediate and long. The injured Colt -- versus the Aggies -- completed 17 of 28 for 160 yards but also threw three INTs and was limited to mainly short and intermediate attempts (his longest completion of the day was just 20 yards), which allowed the A&M defense to bunch its defense near the line of scrimmage, thus limiting both the Longhorn run and the pass.

A similar situation in San Antonio is the recipe for another long day for the Texas offense. But Brown doesn't anticipate an A&M redux.

"The thing that we didn’t see in looking back at A&M is his confidence," the Texas head man said Tuesday. "He just didn’t have that spring and that smile and that confidence, because he wasn’t sure going into that ball game. Last week we saw it. We still weren’t sure if they would release him or not. He felt good enough, and his dad was down for the last practice last weekend, that they went to the doctors and they said this looks great, you have three or four days off for Christmas. He has been accurate, he has been 100 percent, he is fired up and excited and he is ready to play."

Brown added that McCoy "just looks stronger."

Looks, of course, can be deceiving, but assuming a healthy McCoy, plus healthy defensive backs, the Horns should look more like that relatively healthy team from the third or fourth week of the season than the one we saw over the regular season's final two weeks.

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