Vince Young had his No. 10 jersey retired on Saturday, but when the game started it looked like he was on the field wearing No. 12.
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy put up a rather VY-esque stat line in a 52-10 season-opening win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday, throwing for 222 yards and three touchdowns on a deadly accurate 24-of-29 passing and rushing for 103 yards and another score.
“Colt played as good of game as I've seen him tonight. He was unbelievable,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown.
McCoy completed his first 13 passes of the 2008 season, a streak which was only broken when sophomore receiver James Kirkendoll dropped a pass that hit him in the hands. The Texas receivers, although giving a strong performance throughout the game, dropped three passes, meaning that McCoy only misfired on two throws the whole game, one of which was caught but was out-of-bounds.
It was a spectacular performance for the junior quarterback, but he gives a great deal of credit to his offensive line.
“I had all day in the pocket,” said McCoy.
The game also signaled the emergence of Blaine Irby. The sophomore tight end was McCoy's top target on Saturday, catching seven passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.
“I found the open spots today and Colt just did a great job of putting the ball where it needed to be,” said Irby.
The Californian carried some hype with him when he arrived at Texas, but it was still a surprise for many to see him take such a big role in the Texas offense so early...well, a surprise for those who haven't seen him every day in practice.
“Blaine was one of the real pleasant surprises for you all. We've seen him in camp,” said Brown.
Saturday was also the Texas debut for coordinator Will Muschamp and his defense gave Longhorn fans plenty to cheer about (and just a few things to worry about as well).
The Texas defense held the Owls and quarterback Rusty Smith, who last season threw for 3,688 yards and 32 touchdowns compared to only nine picks, to just 10 points, thanks primarily to consistent pressure from the front seven. Texas didn't come away with any sacks, but Muschamp says that isn't a true indicator of the way his defensive front played.
“I thought we got good pressure at times. Everybody who wants to look at pressuring the quarterback wants to count sacks...but that's just part of it,” said Muschamp.
Texas disrupted Smith numerous times, often forcing him to throw the ball away...but Smith also got the better of the Texas defense at times as well. Although the Owls struggled in the redzone, between the goal lines they put up 292 yards of total offense, thanks in large part to some breakdowns in the Longhorn secondary.
The Horns started a pair of freshmen, Earl Thomas and Blake Gideon at safety on Saturday. Overall, they and the rest of the defensive backs performed well (Thomas was second on the team in tackles with five), but there were occasional miscues, most notably a 62-yard pass from Smith to Jamari Grant in the first quarter that included a missed assignment and a missed tackle.
“We made some mistakes. We knew the execution's on us and we've got to do a better job coaching,” said Muschamp.
That particular drive, however, displayed both the Texas secondary's youth and its talent. FAU may have made it down to the Texas eight-yard-line on a 62-yard strike, but two plays later Thomas deflected a pass into the waiting arms of senior cornerback Ryan Palmer for the pick and the touchback.
The defense also improved significantly after halftime, holding FAU to just 53 total yards after giving up 239 in the first two quarters. According to Muschamp, improved tackling in the second half helped keep the Owls in check.
“First games and bowl games are always a concern. You wonder how tackling is going to be in the live situations. I felt we were very crisp tonight,” said Muschamp.
While the defense worked out some kinks in the game, the offense, especially McCoy, was crisp from start to finish. But McCoy wasn't the only Texas quarterback Brown wanted to see on Saturday. Second-stringer John Chiles played early and often in the game, sometimes lining up on the field at the same time as McCoy.
Chiles, though not nearly as polished a passer as McCoy, finished the game 4-of-5 for 49 yards passing and a touchdown. Those stats, as well as the rushing yards McCoy put up, look good to Texas head coach Mack Brown.
“We wanted John to throw it more and throw better and we wanted Colt to run it more and both of those things were accomplished,” said Brown.
The main thing the Horns got accomplished though, according to Brown, was just simply finishing. Texas was dominant from start to finish in the game, which is a far cry from last year's opener.
“I'm sure Florida Atlantic was excited after watching our Arkansas State game last year and our Central Florida game where we'd get ahead and then settle down. We wanted this group to finish tonight and we did,” said Brown.
Texas next heads out to El Paso for a game against UTEP. Kick-off for the Saturday, Sept. 6th contest is set for 9:15 p.m. CST.