COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Colt McCoy ran the ball so much early Thursday night his tongue was wagging before the first quarter ended.
Before the game ended, the Texas quarterback was dealing with a nasty split lip that came from a devastating backside hit from Texas A&M blitz leader Von Miller.
Even with those maladies, McCoy just kept running and throwing his way to the kind of game that assuredly should resonate with Heisman voters for the next few days.
His feet and arm helped him account for 479 yards of total offense and five touchdowns, directing Texas to a wild 49-39 victory over the plucky Aggies.
It was clearly Texas’ toughest challenge down the stretch. The biggest reason they were able to continue the first 12-0 regular season in school history was because of their quarterback.
“I thought he was unbelievable,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “He just kept bringing us back and scoring. For a guy to do what he did with his feet and throw four touchdowns was just phenomenal. I don’t remember many performances like that, period. He was a great leader and he never even blinked.”
On his career-best 65-yard touchdown run, McCoy was afraid that a speedier Texas A&M defender would chase him down before reaching the end zone.
Funny thing: McCoy showed an extra gear when the defenders closed in on him.
“I was tired,” McCoy said. “I thought somebody was running right behind me. I don’t know if I looked slow, but I sure felt slow there. I came back to the sidelines and needed fluid for sure.”
That run helped spark him to a career-best 175 rushing yards. His 46 rushing yards in the first quarter had surpassed his previous season high.
It’s been clear that the Longhorns coaches have limited McCoy’s running this season, preferring to have him throw short passes instead of charging through defenses on the zone-read plays he ran last season. McCoy rushed for 561 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Coming into Thursday’s game, he had rushed for a pedestrian 193 yards on 93 carries with one touchdown.
But against a Texas A&M defense that was backing up in the secondary and committing more blitzes that McCoy had seen, Texas coaches were convinced McCoy could produce rushing yards by the bunches against the Aggies.
“I was just doing what they told me to do,” said McCoy, who passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns. “We went back to the old-fashioned zone-read play early. Because they were playing their deep safeties in the secondary, that quarterback draw was there. [Texas offensive coordinator] Coach (Greg) Davis kept calling it over and over and it wore me out.”
His weariness didn’t seem to show. McCoy's 479 yards of total offense was the third-highest total in school history, trailing only Vince Young’s 506 yards against Oklahoma State in 2005 and McCoy’s 483 yards against UCF earlier this season.
Those numbers, Davis said, were “Heisman-like.” But McCoy, who finished second last season in the Heisman voting, wasn’t concerned if his efforts convinced those voters who were watching.
“I’m not worried about that because I just want to win,” McCoy said. “I did my best and we’ll see.”
The split lip came late in the game when Miller had become a presence in the Texas backfield.
“I wear my mouthpiece on the bottom and bit myself through my lip,” McCoy said. “For some reason, my mouth was open and I bit right through my lip. It hurt me.”
But Brown, who has seen his quarterbacks finish second in the Heisman race twice in the past four seasons, said that McCoy’s effort and his moxie provided a special punctuation mark for his senior season.
McCoy improved his record to 44-7 as a starter as he became the first Texas quarterback in history to register back-to-back 12-victory seasons. He threw four or more touchdowns for the ninth time in his career and now owns three of Texas’ four 3,000-yard passing seasons.
Those numbers are impressive. But his 65-yard TD run is the kind of snapshot that should stick with Heisman voters as they glance at their ballots.
“I don’t get to vote and I’m not going there,” Brown said. “But everybody that likes college football was watching tonight. And if anybody has a better Heisman moment than that, I’d like to see it.”