10-19-07 - A frustrating season for Colt McCoy and Texas may be turning in the right direction.
Coming off their first Big 12 win, the No. 19 Longhorns try to make up some ground in the conference race on Saturday as they go for their 10th straight win over Baylor.
Despite winning the national title two years ago and going into this season ranked No. 4, Texas (5-2, 1-2) was off to one of its worst starts in conference play in 50 years with losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma. McCoy and the Longhorns, though, have reason to be optimistic.
Only one of their final six games is against a ranked opponent -- that's at home versus No. 22 Texas Tech -- and that stretch began last Saturday with McCoy having an outstanding game after uneven performances during the 0-2 start to Big 12 play.
McCoy had as many touchdown passes as interceptions this season before going 23-of-29 for 298 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-3 victory over Iowa State last week. He did not get intercepted for just the second time in seven games and also had his first rushing TD of the season.
"That was important for us. Last week we felt like we played well and had some bad breaks," McCoy said, referring to a 28-21 home loss to Oklahoma. "To come out this week and not turn the ball over and get turnovers, that was big for us. That's a step we needed to take and we did that today."
The turnaround didn't surprise coach Mack Brown, who thought McCoy's postgame speech after the Oklahoma loss signaled a change in the quarterback.
"He was very aggressive with (his teammates)," Brown said of the speech. "That's the first sign of that type leadership I've ever seen out of him and I saw that again on Saturday. I think he finally knows it's time for him to take over and be in charge. He said all the things I would have said."
The Longhorns had been waiting for McCoy to show the same form that made him one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the nation last year. McCoy had just seven interceptions while tying an NCAA freshman record with 29 touchdown passes, including a school-record six TDs in a 63-31 rout of Baylor.
That was Texas' ninth consecutive victory over Baylor (3-4, 0-3), dating to a 23-21 road loss on Nov. 1, 1997. The Longhorns have outscored the Bears 455-89 during that win streak and shut them out four times, including a 118-0 margin in their last two visits to Baylor.
"Texas is Texas, they're good across the board," Bears offensive coordinator Lee Hays said. "It's going to be a challenge and we need to go out there and give it our best and not turn it over."
The Bears have been blown out in each of their three Big 12 matchups, getting outscored 135-43.
Baylor is coming off a 58-10 loss to Kansas last Saturday. The Bears had 202 yards of total offense compared to 447 for the Jayhawks, and quarterback Blake Szymanski was pulled after he threw three interceptions. He was 18-of-33 for 119 yards before leaving in the fourth quarter.
"Nobody's given up on anybody. We have five more chances to get out there and play to win," Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek said.
The Bears are waiting to announce who their starting quarterback will be on Saturday. Coach Guy Morriss said on Monday that Szymanski suffered a concussion in the Kansas game. He was evaluating his options, but Morriss said Mike Machen and John David Weed have the edge.