PASADENA, Calif. -- Texas quarterback Colt McCoy hurt his passing shoulder on the Longhorns' first drive of the Citi BCS National Championship Game Thursday night, knocking him out of the biggest -- and final -- game of his college career.
McCoy told ESPN.com after the game he had a pinched nerve in his right shoulder. He said his arm felt like a "noodle" and had no strength.
"I could throw [the ball] hard," McCoy said. "I just didn't know where it was going."
School officials declared him out with Texas trailing Alabama 24-6 early in the third quarter.
Minutes later, McCoy returned to the sideline in full gear except for his helmet and went straight into an offensive huddle as the Longhorns were on the sideline, preparing to start a possession.
McCoy appeared animated as he spoke, walking around the center of the group. He touched the helmet and shoulder pads of his replacement, freshman Garrett Gilbert. McCoy then stood alone on the sideline as the offense took the field. He later put on a headset.
McCoy was injured on the fifth snap of No. 2 Texas' game against No. 1 Alabama. He kept the ball on an option to his left and was hit square by lineman Marcell Dareus for no gain. McCoy got up and appeared to be OK, but went to the sideline as Gilbert ran in and called timeout.
McCoy remained crumpled on the ground throughout the break, then was helped to the bench and later taken away for X-rays. He didn't return to the sideline until after he was ruled out.
"They would be a lot better team because he's a great player," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban told ABC at halftime. "So it's unfortunate for them."
McCoy is the winningest quarterback in NCAA history, with 45 victories in his 52 starts. He's been durable, too, never missing a game with an injury despite weighing only 180 pounds when he first took over as a redshirt freshman. He's filled out to 215 pounds, but has also taken a beating as one of the team's top runners.
He was sacked nine times in the Big 12 championship game, yet still led a winning drive in the final minute.
"You know, I've been lucky to stay healthy," he said Tuesday. "For me, as a quarterback, you understand you're going to take shots. I understand that the coaches need me to run the ball, so I bust my tail in the weight room. I work out as hard as I can. I work out three to four times a week really preparing my body for those shots that I take. I try to be in the best physical shape that I possibly can be."
McCoy was third in Heisman Trophy voting this season after finishing second the year before.
He was 2-of-2 for 9 yards in this game, closing his career stats at 1,157-of-1,645 (70.3 percent) for 13,253 yards with 112 touchdowns. He holds the school record for passing yards, passing touchdowns and passer rating, and finishes among the top 10 in NCAA history in passing yards, passing touchdowns and total offense. He's second in career accuracy, narrowly missing the mark of 70.4 percent.
He is a two-time winner of the Walter Camp Foundation's player of the year award. This season, he also won the Maxwell Award as the player of the year, the Davey O'Brien Award as the top quarterback and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the top senior quarterback.
At the end of his redshirt year, McCoy watched from the sideline as Vince Young led Texas to a national championship with an upset of No. 1 Southern California in the Rose Bowl. Back on the same field under very similar circumstances, McCoy was looking forward to trying to cap his career with a title, too.
Instead, the Longhorns began the Gilbert era a game earlier than planned.
Gilbert is the son of former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert and was a prized recruit, winning several national high school player of the year awards in 2008.
Texas has been grooming him to replace McCoy, using him in nine games this season. He went 15-of-26 passing for 124 yards. However, the four games he didn't play were against the Longhorns' toughest foes: Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.
Gilbert also appeared to be shaken up on a first-half hit, but stayed in the game.
ESPN's Mark Schlabach and The Associated Press contributed to this report.