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Matt Hinton

Red Alert: Apparent shoulder injury bounces McCoy from title game (Updated)

Matt Hinton
Dr. Saturday

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The first few minutes of the first quarter of the BCS Championship game have been an unadulterated nightmare for Alabama. Facing a 4th-and-23 from their own 20 on the game's opening possession, the Tide inexplicably attempted (and failed) to catch Texas off guard on a fake punt, leading to a Longhorn field goal; on the ensuing kickoff, UT hopped on a loose ball in 'Bama territory to set up another kick to go ahead 6-0 less than seven minutes into the game.

And yet it's Texas fans whose hearts are in their throats at the start of the second quarter, after quarterback Colt McCoy -- four-year starter, two-time Heisman finalist and unquestioned MVP of one of the highest-scoring offenses in the nation -- left the game and then the stadium for X-rays on an apparent shoulder injury. At least, that's the report by ABC's sideline reporter, Lisa Salters; nothing on the play that knocked McCoy out of the game gave any indication that McCoy was injured at all, much less where he was hurting or how it might have happened. On the fifth snap of the biggest game of his career, he just motioned to the sideline after a short run into the line of scrimmage and trotted off the field.

McCoy's stunning exit leaves the game in the hands of true freshman Garrett Gilbert, a hyped recruit from just outside of Austin with zero meaningful snaps to his credit outside of a few short blowout appearances as McCoy's understudy. Hyped or not, there couldn't be a worse setting for anyone to shed the "apprentice" label: Gilbert not only hasn't played, but didn't really plan on playing tonight against possibly the nation's best defense, coached by an aggressive veteran, Nick Saban, who's known for confusing quarterbacks with a dizzying array of third down blitzes and won't hesitate to bring the heat from all directions against the rookie. With running back Mark Ingram putting 'Bama up 7-6 on a short touchdown run in the early seconds of the second quarter, the Tide have weathered the Longhorns' opening punch. If McCoy doesn't miraculously stride back onto the field with guns blazing in the second half, it's going to be a long, nearly impossible night for Texas' hopes.

[UPDATE, 10:34 p.m. ET] Television confirms as the teams return to the field for the second half: McCoy's not coming back. The rest of the game is Gilbert's show, and with Alabama ending the first half on a 24-point run, it looks like it's one Texas has no chance to win.

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