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November 20, 2006

Longhorns McCoy, Blalock cleared to face A&M

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AUSTIN, Texas - Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is back at practice and the record-setting freshman is expected to start this week against rival Texas A&M.

Knocked out of the Longhorns' loss at Kansas State on Nov. 11, McCoy has been cleared to return for Friday's game, when the No. 11 Longhorns (9-2, 6-1) can win the Big 12 South Division.

"Real good," is how McCoy described his shoulder and neck Monday. A pinched nerve sidelined him in the first quarter against Kansas State.

McCoy was hurt on a quarterback sneak at the goal line on Texas' first possession. He scored the touchdown, but it was his last play. He did not practice last week and Texas did not have a game.

"It was really frustrating to be on the sideline," McCoy said. "I had a good doctor's appointment (Sunday). I'm excited to be back at practice this week. I worked really hard this week in the training room to get myself back and ready and get my strength back."

Joining his return is senior offensive lineman Justin Blalock, who hobbled off the field after injuring his left knee in the third quarter of the same game. Blalock has started 49 consecutive games at guard and tackle, anchoring a line that ranks among the best in the country.

McCoy was the team's biggest question mark coming into the season, but has turned into its steadiest player and leader of the offense. He has a school-record 27 touchdown passes this year.

"Anytime you take a guy out of your team that has taken a lot of snaps, touched the ball every time he was on the field, and everybody was talking about for the Heisman, its going to affect you some," Texas coach Mack Brown said last week.

Although freshman backup Jevan Snead played well against Kansas State, McCoy's injury in the opening minutes was a jolt to a team that still had a chance to defend its 2005 national championship.

A win Friday would set up a Big 12 title game against Nebraska, a rematch of Texas' 22-20 victory in October.

"I don't want to talk about the injury anymore. I don't want to talk about losing. We've still got our No. 1 goal and that's to win the Big 12 South," McCoy said. "We can clinch that this weekend."

McCoy redshirted last season when Texas beat A&M 40-29 at Kyle Field in College Station.

A lifelong Texas fan, McCoy hasn't been to a Longhorns-Aggies game in Austin since 1998. Ricky Williams led Texas to a 26-20 win and broke the Division I-A career rushing record with a long run in the first quarter.

McCoy was sitting near a group of A&M fans that day.

"In my family there's some Aggies," he said. "I hate to say that."

For more coverage of the Texas Longhorns check out OrangeBloods.com.

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