Thursday, September 15, 2011
Updated: September 16, 10:06 AM ET
Names add pressure for McCoy, Shipley
By Carter Strickland
AUSTIN, Texas -- The setting casts shadows.
They are large over the valley from the San Gabriel Mountains.
They are larger still on the field at the Rose Bowl, where the memories of those who have played loom over those who are about to play.
For Texas, not many shadows are larger than those hanging over Case McCoy and Jaxon Shipley.
Case is the brother of Colt, who owns a litany of Texas and NCAA records, and whose Longhorns career was ended by injury just a few plays into the 2009 BCS Championship Game -- at the Rose Bowl, no less.
Jaxon is the brother of the Texas wide receiver who couldn't be stopped by Alabama, or anyone. Jordan Shipley had 10 catches, 122 yards and two touchdowns as Jaxon watched from the Rose Bowl stands with his father, Bob. That was also the last day of Jordan's career in burnt orange and white.
Now it is Case and Jaxon's turn. The stakes are not as high. UCLA is not Alabama, and the third week of the season is not make-or-break.
But the shadows are still large.
"We both have big shoes to fill,'' Shipley said. "For me, I am just trying to go out there and have fun and not worry about the pressure, not get caught up in the pressure side of things and live up to what your brother did. You can get caught up in that."
It is because of what their brothers did -- four 10-win seasons, a Big 12 title and two BCS bowls -- that so much is expected of Case and Jaxon. It's also because of the connection between their brothers. When Case and Jaxon were named starters this week, all the background between the families, all the history, all the stories, brought back memories to Texas fans and stirred up the possibilities of things to come.
Those possibilities, particularly after watching Case hit Jaxon on two passes during the game-winning drive against BYU, have a foundation in fact.
The two have known each other more than half their lives.
"We are probably a little bit closer [than Colt and Jordan]," Jaxon said.
They have known each other since they were kids, and when their brothers went off to Texas, it was natural they would follow.
The sophomore McCoy, two years older than the freshman Shipley, had been the one already trying to live up to the name on the jersey. He was not big. He was not fast. He was not highly ranked in the recruiting process.
But he was a McCoy.
"They're very different with their personalities, and I think my older brother [Watson] is different than me," Texas coach Mack Brown said.
"The things that are similar, if you put the same number on them and you throw out names and just put them out there -- he's got the quick release. He's very accurate. He's got an easy ball to catch. He's got quick feet."
Case also has had to handle the spotlight more than than Jaxon. He is the sophomore quarterback trying to steady a position that has been in tumult since his brother left. Every eye is on him every play. Jaxon is the focus only on those plays when Case gets him the ball.
"You kind of have that big-brother syndrome a little bit that I can see," offensive lineman David Snow said. "[When] your brother was a Heisman candidate here, he was an All American. You have big shoes to fill up. So a chip is on Case's shoulder all the time."
While the pressure is there, the situation also has its advantages.
"It makes you a lot more mature on and off the field because you don't make some of the same mistakes as some of the guys who didn't have anybody to tell them how it's going to be," said linebacker Emmanuel Acho, whose brother Sam played with Colt and Jordan. "You always see the maturity on the field with guys like Jaxon , Quandre [Diggs] and then Case coming into the game and just leading us back to a victory. You've always seen the maturity on the field. So that's one of the underlying things that nobody really knows about, but it's there."
The thing everyone knows about is the expectations. No one knows if Case and Jaxon will fulfill the expectations, exceed them or come up short. But the players know they won't ever escape the shadows of those expectations or their brothers unless they first become themselves on the field.
"I kind of just want to take my own path, and that's one of the things my brother talked to me about. [Jordan said] don't feel like you have to follow in my footsteps and live up to what I've done," Jaxon said. "So one of the things I've been trying to do is just have fun and not really worry about what he's done."
|While his brother holds most of Texas' passing records, Case McCoy will look to build on his good outing against BYU.|
Carter Strickland covers University of Texas sports and recruiting for HornsNation.
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