Ever since Garrett Gilbert was ousted as Texas’ starting quarterback, Case McCoy and David Ash have treated the job like a hot potato. So it’s only fitting that both will see significant playing time against Cal in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl Dec. 28.
“We’ve got to get settled but we’re in a position right now where we’re going to need both of them,” said head coach Mack Brown, who will not release a depth chart until game day. “We want the kids to compete and make sure the guys that are practicing the hardest and best will be the ones that get to play in the ballgame.”
Each has started five games this year with McCoy seemingly solidifying himself as the starter after a spirited effort in a 27-25 win over Texas A&M that included a 25-yard run on the Longhorns’ final drive and no turnovers by the sophomore signal-caller. But McCoy was picked off four times in a loss to Baylor while throwing for 365 yards and three touchdowns, all career-highs.
Brown and Bergeron both healthy again
The Longhorns churned out 439 rushing yards in a 43-0 win over Kansas behind freshman phenoms Malcolm Brown, who ran for 119 yards and two scores against the Jayhawks, and Joe Bergeron, who ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns. At the time, Texas thought it had finally found an offensive identity.
“I thought we were about to be really good,” Brown said. “I haven’t seen us run the ball like that since probably 2004 or 2005. It was just unbelievable to see what happened the next game – a combination of Fozzy going down and the other two backs being banged up.”
But Brown and Bergeron each missed three of the next five games as the Longhorns’ running game and offense sputtered down the stretch. They combined to average just three yards per carry over Texas’ last four contests, a timespan that saw the Longhorns run for less than 140 yards per game, 100 fewer than their average during the first eight.
“I want to have a dominant running game,” said sophomore guard Mason Walters. “We can do that. And we know that. It’s frustrating that we haven’t been able to do that lately.”
Irby not applying for medical redshirt
Blaine Irby may have saved his best football for last. After announcing he will not apply for a medical redshirt and a sixth season, Irby will wrap up his college career against Cal in the Holiday Bowl. Irby, whose family is close to Golden Bears head coach Jeff Tedford’s, caught touchdown passes in each of the Longhorns’ last three games, including an acrobatic one-handed snag in the back of the end zone against Baylor.
“I’m just moving on with my life and staying healthy, that’s really my main concern,” Irby said. “It’s time for me to walk away from the game being on top and coming out on my own terms.”
Offensive guard Mark Buchanan and fullback Jamison Berryhill are also turning down opportunities to appeal for additional eligibility while linebacker and recent graduate Dravannti Johnson will transfer. Irby, who did not play for nearly three full seasons, cited overall soreness and tendonitis in his knees among the reasons he chose to end his Texas career
“I don’t want Blaine to walk like I do when he’s 60,” said Brown, who turned 60 this August. “He’s been a miracle. My goal for him would have been to be able to play with his children in the backyard. And then we thought about playing, I said he’d never get to start. And, all of a sudden, he starts and really helps us. He’s gotten accomplished all that he needs to accomplish.”
Akina a candidate for Hawaii head coaching job
After nearly leaving Austin earlier this year, Duane Akina is flirting with taking another job again. Akina, who has coached the Longhorns secondary for 10 years, accepted a position to be the secondary coach at Arizona in January before coming back to Texas the next month. Now, Akina could be leaving the Forty Acres to become the head coach at Hawai’I, where he coached from 1979-1983. Despite inheriting an inexperienced secondary that lost three players to the NFL, Akina helped the Longhorns boast the Big 12’s best pass defense.
“I thought Duane did his best job this year,” said Brown. “[Hawai’i] is home for him and we want him to stay but if he has a chance and if he wants the Hawai’I job, that would be a great opportunity for him.”
Brown has no regrets about 2004 lobbying
In 2004, Texas ended its regular season with a narrow victory over Texas A&M while Cal squeaked out a win against Southern Mississippi. The Longhorns came into that week ranked No. 5 in the BCS standings while the Golden Bears checked in at No. 4. Mack Brown needed his team to jump Cal in order to earn an automatic BCS bowl berth and strongly advocated for Texas to crack the top four. Sure enough, the Longhorns passed up the Bears and beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl while Cal fell to Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl.
“I would do the exact same thing again,” said Brown. “I think I haven’t taken up for teams that haven’t done well. I wasn’t trying to fight for last year’s team to be in the BCS. I never brought it up because it wasn’t an issue.”