Becoming Brett

BOULDER, COLO. -- Colt McCoy's finally got it. Saturday night against the Colorado Buffaloes, McCoy displayed an innate sense of his teammates' location, an understanding of the field and an insane level of gutsiness that shows an undeniable comparison that previously would seem unimaginable: Colt McCoy is Brett Favre.

The pocket collapsed around Colt McCoy as he scampered forward, attempting to salvage a painfully broken play. But as he neared the line of scrimmage, instead of tucking the ball under and trying to run for the first down, as he'd done so many times before, he looked to his left and dumped the ball off just as his legs were being taken out from under him to a wide open Chris Ogbonnaya, who streaked 65 yards down the sideline for the score.

It was the first touchdown of Texas' 38-14 win over Colorado Saturday night and McCoy had thrown it in spectacular, ridiculous fashion. But it would not be the last. The second touchdown was much the same.

Texas was on the Colorado 16. McCoy rolled out of the pocket to his right and as the defense closed in he saw wide receiver Jordan Shipley standing all alone in the endzone. But the defenders were too close. McCoy didn't have time to even cock his arm for a pass, much less enough to set his feet.

So what did he do? Did he take a sack? Did he throw it away? No. McCoy, wrapped up, with barely his entire right arm to work with, slung a high-arching football into the endzone, right into the waiting arms of Shipley, who put his foot down before falling past the end line. Touchdown Texas.

It was a crazy, nonsensical, moronic, brilliant throw from McCoy. With with a defender draped on them like that, no quarterback should attempt as risky a throw as McCoy did. That is, of course, unless the receiver is that open and the quarterback knows his man, knows where he's going to be and knows he can get it there.

The Ogbonnaya touchdown was just the same. Those plays didn't happen because Colt McCoy is a tremendous athlete or has a cannon for a right arm or any of that. They happen because McCoy is developing a sense that the great quarterbacks have, an understanding of where all his players are at all times and he has a gutsiness and grit that so few show, attempting throws that no quarterback should ever attempt and yet somehow making them work.

Colt McCoy is Brett Favre.

He has both the good and bad of Favre as well. Heading into the 2008 season, McCoy was on pace to become the leader in a lot of categories in the history of Texas football, but unfortunately for the junior signal-caller, one of those categories was interceptions. In 2007, he'd come within one interception of equaling Todd Dodge's single season school record for picks (19) and his total of 25 heading into this season meant he would pass Peter Gardere's career record (45) if he didn't shape up in a hurry.

Favre has his share of interceptions, 292 of them in his NFL career to be exact. In five different seasons as the starting quarterback for the Packers, Favre threw over 20 interceptions, including an embarrassing 29 in 2005.

Yet despite all the picks, Favre never lets one get to him, always smiling and playing the game like a kid in his gutsy, free-wheeling style that always seems to work out, even when it shouldn't.

McCoy threw two picks on Saturday, but only one was truly his fault. Impressively, it's the only pick this season that can be directly attributed to McCoy...but was it ever a bad one. On 3rd and 8 late in the first quarter, he tried to hit receiver Quan Cosby on a crossing route. Instead, McCoy tossed it into the hands of Colorado's Jalil Brown, who returned the ball 57 yards, setting up the Buffs in the Texas red zone (however, thanks to a stout defense and a missed field goal, Colorado came away with no points).

It was a poor throw, too far inside on a route that wasn't very deep and placed perfectly for the defender to catch and run. But did it get to McCoy?

Not in the least. He went right back to work, leading Texas on an eight-play 66-yard touchdown drive later in the half to put the Horns up comfortably, 21-0.

McCoy's arm is stronger than most thought, but it's still not his most effective weapon. It's his understanding of that game and, now, his senses on the field.

Arm strength is certainly not a problem for Favre. The 18-year NFL vet has a Howitzer attached to his torso, yet his most famous throws are typically not screaming long bombs, but instead deftly placed passes into spots that few QBs could hit.

It's the kind of throws that McCoy is suddenly starting to hit with surprising regularity. This is not to say that McCoy is going to start performing a 'Longhorn Leap' after touchdowns or get the urge to retire and suddenly un-retire, but nowadays he's got a jovial, relaxed, gutsy, Favre-ish manner to his game.

And for Texas, that's very good news.


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