Texas QB McCoy taking hits, throwing picks at No. 19 Texas

AUSTIN, Texas -- His body battered and his ego bruised, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is struggling through a sophomore slump.

After tying an NCAA freshman record with 29 touchdown passes last year, he's taking a beating behind a patchwork offensive line and throwing interceptions at an alarming rate through five games.

In last week's loss to Kansas State, McCoy threw four picks, one of which was returned for a touchdown, and left the game twice after getting driven into the turf by a defensive lineman.

Team doctors said he showed symptoms of a concussion -- vomiting and dizziness late in the game -- but nobody at Texas will say outright whether he suffered a concussion.

"I don't want to talk about it much," McCoy said. "I'll be fine. I've been with the doctors and trainers. We'll be OK."

McCoy's health is worrisome for No. 19 Texas (4-1, 0-1 Big 12) as the Longhorns prepare for Saturday's game against No. 10 Oklahoma (4-1, 0-1).

He's been knocked out of the last three conference games, all losses, and his interceptions are costing Texas points. If he gets hurt again, the top backup is freshman John Chiles, a good runner who has completed only one pass.

Of McCoy's nine interceptions -- he had only seven last season -- two have been returned for touchdowns. Opponents have turned the picks into 37 points.

McCoy's teammates say they are solidly behind the quarterback who played so well when he stepped into the huge void left by Vince Young.

"I just hope he's not trying too hard," linebacker Scott Derry said. "He's the kind of guy that would take the whole weight of the team and put it on his shoulders."

McCoy was the star of the Oklahoma game last season, throwing two second-half touchdowns in a 28-10 Texas win. On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Dallas, the small-town kid's big smile beamed nationwide.

"His numbers were so good last year that now you're trying to compare him to last year," Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "He played like Superman the whole year, and now he's not quite Superman, and all of a sudden, what's wrong? It's like, 'Thank God."'

McCoy has shown a pattern of early mistakes. Six of his interceptions have come in the second quarter. TCU and K-State both pounced on turnovers to take early leads.

McCoy said last week he'd stop trying to be perfect to let others around him make plays. But against the Wildcats, poor protection and tipped passes led to even more problems.

"Every one of those (four) interceptions he either had someone in his face or hit him or a tipped ball," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "We did not protect Colt well enough."

A hit in the second quarter left McCoy woozy and staggering on the field. Trainers took him to the locker room before halftime, and he spent the entire break with the medical staff before he was cleared to return.

He played well when he did, scrambling and improvising on busted plays to lead a touchdown drive. But two more interceptions led to a field goal and a K-State touchdown, and the dizziness and vomiting led him back to the sideline.

"He's tough," Brown said. "Most kids probably would have come out at halftime, but he stayed in and tried to win, and that's what you really appreciate about him."

The question now is whether Texas can keep him on the field against the Sooners. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said his team isn't looking to add to McCoy's injuries.

"We're never sitting here -- ever -- in our program talking about hurting a guy," Stoops said.

McCoy's offensive lineman say they must do a better job keeping him on his feet. The line pushed Oklahoma around in the second half last season, but three starters from that unit are now in the NFL.

"I feel personally responsible for anybody touching him," center Dallas Griffin said. "Colt's a great quarterback. Everybody up front needs to do a better job."