McCoy will make his first start of year on Saturday at No. 7 Kansas State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12). David Ash is questionable for the game with an undisclosed rib injury. McCoy last started in December 2011 at Baylor, a game UT lost 48-24.
"It's the right thing to do," quarterback coach Bryan Harsin said. "This week is going to be a tough challenge for Case because we're playing a very good football team at their place."
Texas (8-3, 5-3) has primarily used McCoy late in games this year when it needed a spark. He led UT to a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a comeback win at Kansas on Oct. 27. McCoy relieved Ash in the second half of that game after Ash threw two interceptions. The Longhorns hope the same McCoy from the KU game shows up on Saturday, not the quarterback who threw four interceptions and lost a fumble in his previous start.
"This is a great opportunity for him to do what he did at Kansas and that's drive us down for two touchdowns and score late to win the game, instead of what his last experience was at Baylor when we turned the ball over," coach Mack Brown said.
McCoy came off the bench in relief of Ash on Thanksgiving and led a scoring drive late in the fourth quarter of a 20-13 loss to TCU. He was intercepted on UT's final possession of the game, though. Still, the Longhorns believe McCoy is at his best in tough situations. After all, McCoy led a comeback victory over Texas A&M last Thanksgiving.
"He enjoys it. That's why I love playing with him and being around him," offensive lineman Mason Walters said. "He wants to win. He's excited for that chance and it's contagious. It does sort of bring a little bit of a different energy to the offense."
UT said McCoy would not be made available to speak with the media prior to Saturday's game.
Texas would not disclose when Ash's rib injury occurred. Ash was 10-of-21 for 104 yards against TCU with two interceptions. He was benched at the end of the first half in favor of McCoy, but started the second half. McCoy relieved him again in the fourth quarter.
"He's tough, he didn't say anything about it the whole ball game," Brown said. "I don't know when he got hurt for sure."
The Longhorns are unsure if Ash will be able to play Saturday. Senior punter Alex King would be McCoy's backup if Ash is unavailable. King, a transfer from Duke, was a quarterback during a post-graduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in 2007.
"He was a walk on quarterback at Duke who I think was third team at one point," Brown said. "So he worked there [Sunday] night."
The Longhorns did not consider moving other position players to quarterback this week.
"Alex is smart, he's mature, he's older. We'll give him a limited package and not have to take somebody out of a position somewhere else," Brown said.
Texas said it would not use freshmen quarterbacks Connor Brewer or Jalen Overstreet against the Wildcats. Neither freshman has played this season and would not be eligible to redshirt if he took a snap.
"If you put them in for three plays against Kansas State it costs them a year and I don't think that's fair," Brown said. "Goes out there one play and gets hurt and costs them a year. I don't think that's what we should do."
Harsin said he has not made a decision about his quarterback for the bowl game.
"I'm not going to make any decisions on that right now," Harsin said. "There's no future beyond Kansas State right now."
Coach Brown would not commit to Ash as the quarterback of the future either.
"I think David has a chance to be really good in the future," he said. "Case has done a good job coming off the bench and hopefully Case will do good this weekend. I see David being a good player for the future."
By Austin Laymance/Special to the Star-Telegram