"He looks like the player that we saw when we recruited him in high school," Texas coach Mack Brown said Monday. "The game has really slowed down for him. One of the things we liked about him was that he called us (in 2004) and said, ‘If you want me, I'll come to Texas. I don't want to go anywhere else. It's been my life's dream.' We never, ever questioned that he would be a productive player because that's who he was. We questioned his strength. A lot of guys that you sign who are highly-recruited don't get any better because they sit around and look at how good they are and don't work. Colt went to work."
The work is paying off. McCoy completed Texas' non-conference slate with an NCAA-leading 80 percent completion rate (80-of-100) for 1,018 yards and 14 TDs, with only one INT.
"My dad always taught me that the definition of a ‘good ball' is a ball that's caught," said McCoy, a coach's son. "If I hit ‘em right in the hands and they still drop it, it's a bad pass."
McCoy has thrown very few bad passes this season, despite his relatively young group of WRs. McCoy's 20 incompletions are the fewest among the nation's top 100 passers. At least five of those were dropped balls, offensive coordinator Greg Davis estimated; at least that many were the result of McCoy wisely throwing the ball out of bounds when the play wasn't there.
"He hasn't missed many where he actually had a shot to throw it," Davis said.
McCoy ranks eighth nationally (No. 3 Big 12) in total offense at 324 ypg; he is responsible for a league-leading 27 points-per-game (No. 2 nationally). His 209.7 passer rating also ranks second nationally.
An emphasis during spring football and August camp was for McCoy to remain longer inside the pocket. He's balanced that, however, with a reliance on fancy footwork that has established him as Texas' leading rusher with 278 yards and four TDs on 34 carries (8.2 ypc). McCoy can expect at least four designed runs per game, coaches said. Even so, a few of the quarterback keepers signaled from the sideline can still catch McCoy by surprise.
"We ran three quarterback draws in the (Arkansas) game," McCoy grinned, "and I hadn't had a quarterback draw called in a long time. We were in the red zone and I was thinking, ‘Did he (Davis) mess up? What's he doing?'"
A significant aspect of McCoy's development has been his commitment to Texas strength-and-conditioning, resulting in approximately 30 extra pounds of lean muscle. The regiment includes six meals per day during the regular season.
"I weighed 179 pounds the day I stepped on campus (in 2005)," McCoy said, "and I was sitting there behind a guy (Vince Young) that weighed 225. He weighed nearly 50 pounds more than me. I saw all the guys who played quarterback in the Big 12, so I knew I had to put on weight. I knew I had to get stronger. My first goal coming in was to get big. I feel comfortable. I feel like I can run and take some shots. When you add 30 to 35 pounds, you have to be able to maintain your speed or get even faster. A lot of times when you put on that kind of weight, you can't move. I've actually gotten faster."
McCoy continues to credit a steadily improving offensive line that could emerge as the top unit of the Mack Brown era by the time they hang up their cleats. The most significant aspect of McCoy's development, however, has as much to do with what's happening between the ears as it does between the hash marks. An older, wiser McCoy is making smarter decisions now that he is in his fourth year in the system.
"Last year I may have tried to squeeze a ball in there instead of sprinting out," McCoy said. "If it's knocked down, it might be 3rd-and-10. Or, it might get picked off and it hurts our team. Now, if they have a better coverage than we do, I'll sprint out and try to make 10 yards. It's just being smart with the ball and taking care of the ball."
McCoy holds Texas' career record with 65 touchdown passes. His career 68.1 completion percentage (573-of-842) is also a program best. A win Saturday at Colorado would improve McCoy's career record to 25-6, moving him into a tie for fifth on Texas' all-time list.