09 January 2010
It's a damn shame Colt McCoy got hurt. Although Nick Saban is a good head coach, and therefore like all good head coaches uses the media as a tool, not a confessional booth, I strongly suspect he was being sincere when he said that "you always hate to see a great competitor who's had a great career not be able to participate in a game that he's probably worked his entire career to be a part of."
Nobody wanted to see that, not even Saban. Texas fans are justified in feeling a little cheated, and in wondering privately among themselves what might have happened without McCoy's injury. Maybe they can even channel their frustration into some kind of positive energy.
What they shouldn't do is come out publicly and say things like "If Colt McCoy hadn't gotten hurt, we would've won." My Texas friends, nobody likes a whiner, and you ain't nothin' but a whiner when you say something like that. It's hogwash, too, and I'll give you a few reasons.
OK, first: did you know Greg McElroy played with two broken ribs? The whole game? Did you notice that he wasn’t even the shadow of the QB he has been from the LSU game on? And not even the shadow of the shadow of the QB he was against Florida on December 5? Which, by the way, was a day he turned in a championship-game performance about 1000 times better than the championship-game performance Colt McCoy turned in that same day?
Doesn’t that put the whole “wah wah wah Colt McCoy got hurt” thing in a different context? You didn't have your quarterback, we didn't have ours. Really, the difference between having a #2 QB playing and having a #1 QB playing like a #2 QB is not huge if it exists at all. Life is tough, football is tough, and both teams got bit by an injury to their QB.
Next. Was Colt McCoy injured because he got struck by lightning after a black cat crossed his path? No, he got injured because Mack Brown took a calculated risk to stretch his playbook and keep Alabama off-balance with called quarterback keepers up the middle against the most physical defense in the land. You pays your money, you takes your chances. Nick Saban gambled on a fake punt and failed – Mack Brown gambled on putting quarterback runs in the game plan and failed.
Next: “Texas got within 3 with Gilbert therefore they would’ve won with McCoy” is not a valid syllogism, so engage brain prior to speaking.
Obviously, it would’ve been a different game with McCoy in there. Does Texas do better? Maybe. But think about this: did you get the impression Alabama took the foot off the gas in the 3rd quarter? Here’s a hint: of course they did, trotting out safety-first gameplans on both offense and defense. And clearly, it was a mistake, and it made the game much more interesting than it should’ve been. If the game is closer, probably the foot never comes off the gas.
Your mileage may vary, but from my perspective the way Alabama roadgraded Texas for the last 22 or so minutes of the first half, I don’t think Colt McCoy’s presence would ultimately have made a hill of beans. At the best, he would have kept it close a little longer like Tim Tebow did on December 5, so Bama never takes the foot off the gas until it’s really over, like against Florida. Alabama played great QBs all year and kept winning.
Colt McCoy was a pretty good quarterback, but while stacking up lots of wins as a four-year starter at an elite program is impressive, it's not the stuff of greatness. Colt McCoy simply did not have a great year in 2009. He's a decent runner who was 16th in the nation in passing efficiency; good stats but not great, and even some of what makes his stats good must be attributed to the high level of talent that surrounds him. I see no reason to assume he would have achieved a level of heroism that guys like Tim Tebow and Ryan Mallet, who had better years, failed to achieve against the Tide.
One more thing: Garrett Gilbert was the #2 QB on maybe the deepest roster in college football. He was the top recruit in high school last year, according to some analysts. If he was #2 on this roster, that means he must’ve been pretty good, and he was also surrounded by loads of talent. This game was in January and early-high-school-graduate Gilbert had been on the squad for nearly a year and had been the #2 QB for months. Gilbert needed to be ready, and especially if Texas was going to run its starter up the middle on keepers there’s no room to whine if they aren't ready with a #2.
Tough luck on the injury, Texas fans. I wish you better luck in the future. Now you should either admit you lost to a better team or just shut up and bear your disappointment in silence. The fine whines you are enjoying do not make you look attractive.
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