AUSTIN (AP) – The names were the same and so were the results for Texas: a McCoy passing to a Shipley in a come-from-behind victory that looked oh-so-familiar.
The Longhorns’ Colt McCoy-to-Jordan Shipley pass-catch combo dominated Big 12 defenses in 2008 and 2009, leading Texas to a 25-2 record over that span with a Big 12 title and an appearance in the BCS championship game.
Those two rewrote Texas and NCAA record books and the year after they left, Texas fell to 5-7 in 2010, its first losing season in 13 years.
Now their younger brothers are leading a Texas resurgence. Case McCoy and Jaxon Shipley have emerged as two of the big playmakers for the No. 23 Longhorns (2-0).
Case McCoy, a sophomore, led the game-winning drive in last week’s 17-16 win over BYU and has taken over for Garrett Gilbert at starting quarterback this week at UCLA. Shipley, a freshman, had two big catches on the drive and later threw a pass for a first down that helped Texas run out the clock.
Like their older brothers, the two are best friends.
And to make this story even more familiar, they’re roommates too, just like their brothers were.
“We’re probably a little bit closer,” Jaxon Shipley said, noting he and Case have been friends since they were about 8, when they were playing sandlot games.
“We’ve been with each other for a long time and gone on family fishing trips. Colt and Jordan didn’t really know each other as young as we did,” he said.
Watching them play is like watching a familiar highlight reel.
Jaxon Shipley may be even faster and more elusive running through defenses than Jordan was. Case McCoy showed some of his brother’s swashbuckling leadership in the rally against BYU.
“I need ya’ll guys to trust me,” Case McCoy told his teammates. “I’m going to take ya’ll down to score and we’re going to win this football game.”
Case McCoy said he needed to break the tension that was building in the huddle.
“That’s one thing I had to tell them was to calm down. We have been playing this game since we were in the seventh grade. Who cares if there is 100,000 people out there? Just play your game,” he said.
Colt McCoy was a lightly-regarded small-town player when he earned the starting job at Texas in 2006 by beating out Jevan Snead in training camp. Snead transferred to Mississippi after that season and McCoy went on to win an NCAA-record 45 games as a starter.
Case McCoy spent his freshman season as Gilbert’s backup and hardly played even as Texas struggled and Gilbert threw 17 interceptions. Gilbert again emerged as the starter after a training camp battle with McCoy, David Ash and Connor Wood, who has since transferred.
But Gilbert was just 2 of 8 for 8 yards with two interceptions in the second quarter when Texas pulled him and went with a rotation of McCoy and Ash for the rest of the game. Credit Case McCoy with the first second-half comeback win of his career. His brother had eight.
When Cody Johnson scored with just under 9 minutes to play and Texas took its first lead, Case McCoy turned toward the north end zone of the stadium and pumped his fists, just like his brother used to do.
“When we recruited Case, if you put him in Colt’s number and you throw out names, they look a lot alike: Raised in a football family, very smart, accurate, easy ball to catch and he can make plays with his feet,” Texas coach Mack Brown said.
Jaxon Shipley said Case McCoy was “feeling pretty good” after the win.
“He got his shot and he did well with that,” Shipley said. “I think he was very confident that at some point he was going to get his chance … We’ll see what happens from here.”
Case McCoy doesn’t have the job all to himself yet. Ash, a talented freshman, rotated snaps against BYU and should figure prominently in the offense again at UCLA. Ash is considered a better runner than passer at this point but has the size and speed to run the option.
Jaxon Shipley could have enrolled in school in January and participated in spring drills, but chose instead to delay school and work out with his brother. The time bonding and learning from a big brother who now plays in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals was invaluable, Jaxon Shipley said.
“We felt like as a family, it was the best decision to work out with my brother and stay with him. There were a lot of things I could learn from him and it was much-needed time with him,” Jaxon Shipley said. “Most of my game is probably from him. He’s taught me so much about the game mentally.”
When he was younger, Jaxon Shipley used to hang around practice, running off to slide down a big grass hill with his sisters.
“I remember those days. Watching my brother practice, I didn’t have anything else to do,” Jaxon Shipley said. “We’d take off running and dive down the hill headfirst.”
Now Shipley’s teammates brag about his maturity and knowledge of the position as a freshman. He’s shown a willingness to risk taking a big hit to make a catch and Texas defensive backs talk about his “snake eyes,” the ability to look a defender in the eye instead of at the ground and still running precise receiving routes.
Shipley said the two have talked about the long shadows cast by their older brothers.
“We both have big shoes to fill, but it’s only pressure if you see is as that,” Shipley said. “You can get caught up in that,” Shipley said.
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)