McCoy to Shipley, where have we heard that before? It took longer to see that duo in action than it frankly should have, but after Gilbert's 2nd interception; coach Mack Brown could no longer ignore it, he had to bench him. For the game Gilbert completed 4 passes; two to his teammates and two more to BYU. Last year some of the blame could be put on his receivers for not getting open or a uncreative game-plan, but not this season. Nearly every play he would lock on to one receiver, ignore the open guys, and lead the defensive back right to the ball. In particular there was a 3rd down and 4 play in the 1st quarter; the play had Shipley as the inside receiver running an out route and the outside receiver Mike Davis running a deep curl. Shipley was wide open but Gilbert stared down Davis and they didn't pick up the first.
So out with Gilbert and in with McCoy and David Ash. They say if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have one; but for the time being I like playing both. That being said, switching them out play to play is a bit odd, seems they are asking for confusion and delay/illegal substitution penalties when they play on the road. Eventually they'll have to pick one, but for this season letting McCoy be the passer and Ash be the Tebow (in his freshman year) type option runner is the best strategy.
So big picture what should we take from the game? First off I'm encouraged that no matter who the QB is, the offense is much more creative this year and hopefully won't be predictable. The reverse pass from Shipley to Ash out of the wildcat was a thing of beauty; Greg Davis doesn't even know that play exists. Long term taking Texas' talent base and using a Boise style playbook could lead to a very explosive offense. I believe we also learned that the young guys need to play every game from here on out. Malcolm Brown was clearly the best running back; he just moves and jukes like a real back instead of going down on first contact like the backs from the last couple seasons. Brown is easily the best back they've had since Jamaal Charles. A fellow freshman, Jaxon Shipley also looks to be better than advertised and I would even say possibly better than his brother. He made a few catches in traffic that were outstanding. As far as the trigger men responsible for getting them the ball, I don't think either young QB is a star, but I think both are capable players who can move the ball and help you win 10 games a year once they learn the system and get some more experience.
How about on the defensive side? Overall I think the defense played very well. Sure they gave up 16 points, but most of those were off field goals when the offense gave BYU the ball on the wrong side of the 50. Considering BYU started their first 3 drives at the BYU 42, the Texas 37, and the Texas 43; only giving up 6 points was a win for the defense. Also a positive, the young corners played better than I expected. For most of the night they were right on top of the BYU receivers and gave time for the pass rush to get to Heaps. The negatives, unless they blitzed, the pass rush wasn't there. Jeffcoat in particular has to get more pressure on the QB's to help out his young corners. Run defense was also a surprising issue in the 1st half. They seem to handle I-formation runs very well, but any runs from shotgun or the pistol formation gave them problems.
So what's next? A road trip to the Rose Bowl to face UCLA. It's a good test for Texas for several reasons. One, for two QB's with virtually no experience, a road trip to a place like the Rose Bowl could give you an early indication of their toughness and ability to play through adversity. Secondly, I just mentioned their struggles vs. the shotgun running game, UCLA killed them with that last year. So we'll see if new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has an answer. I think a close, hard fought win for them against BYU was a good thing because most of their wins this year will come in that fashion.
I think Texas will win at UCLA but in another very close, low scoring game. Overall, I'm sticking with my 8-4 season record prediction.