And then, with 29 seconds left in the half, Alabama kicked a field goal to add to the lead, making the score 17-6. It had to be hard for Texas players and coaches to watch Alabama just grind them into submission. But there really wasn't much to be done about it. McCoy was in so many ways the soul of this Texas team. The Longhorns clearly lost all hope of winning when they realized he would not play. All Texas coaches could really hope to do was get to halftime and try to infuse some belief and energy back into the players.
The kickoff was returned to the Texas 28. There were 23 seconds left in the half. There was no reason to think Texas, with its backup quarterback, was going to score against Alabama with 23 seconds left. The Longhorns just wanted to run out the clock. Texas' Tre' Newton took a handoff and ran for nine yards -- enough to discourage Alabama from calling timeout. The clock ticked: 17, 16, 15 ... and then it stopped.
Texas had called timeout.
Texas ... had ... called ... timeout.
Inexplicable? No, that word doesn't quite cover it. Mack Brown called timeout. Why? Was he thinking his team could score against Alabama in the last 15 seconds of the half from his own 37? His quarterback was 1-for-9 with an interception for minus-four yards.
Well, anyway, who notices clock management at the end of halves? No, the timeout made no sense. But, hey, so what? Texas would undoubtedly pull out some safe play -- soon it would be halftime. There was no reason to get up in arms about it all.
Then, Gilbert dropped back and, as the rush came on, he indeed tried to throw the safest pass in the game: the shovel pass. Some call it the shuttle pass. Others the shuffle pass. Whatever it's called, nothing bad can happen. It can't be intercepted. If the ball is dropped, it's counted as an incomplete pass. It's safe.