What if Colt McCoy hadn't gotten hurt?

This has been a regularly cycled question amongst the minds of fans of the Texas Longhorns, who have been subjected to a tough decade-and-change since the program's loss to Alabama in the 2009 BCS national title game.

On Saturday, during the Longhorns' rather more painful 20-19 defeat against the Crimson Tide in Austin, the narrative shifted to something much more current.

What if Quinn Ewers hadn't gotten hurt?

The newcomer who transferred in from Ohio State had shown out in the game, throwing for 134 yards. He would have had a passing score if his receivers had helped him out by catching the ball in the end zone.

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At the very end of the first quarter, with the Longhorns setting up inside the Alabama 5-yard line and raring to score the tying touchdown, Ewers threw the ball away on first down. He still fell victim to the rush of Dallas Turner, getting the worst of the turf on a post-pass hit.

Turner would be flagged, and the game would be changed.

With hobbled 2021 starting quarterback Hudson Card, the Longhorns still had great chances to win the game. At the final bell, though, they had emerged on the losing side against Alabama once more.

While it isn't as clear what might have happened during the 2009 season if McCoy had played 60 minutes (he went out in the opening minutes), it is clear that with Ewers playing four quarters on Saturday, Texas probably takes it.

The Crimson Tide defense was sloppy all game, racking up 11 penalties. Card wasn't as volatile with the deep ball as Ewers because of his hurt leg, and with his starter in, Texas coach Steve Sarkisian showed himself willing to take chances. This was less true with Card in the game.

Neither Texas quarterback recorded a pass touchdown, and the offense's inability to finish drives by finding pay-dirt despite making it inside the Alabama 10 multiple times came back to haunt them.

In the lone touchdown drive, the Longhorn offense was largely shepherded by Ewers. That was when he got hurt, and Card took the next snap- a handoff to Bijan Robinson for six.

While 2009 is long in the past, the memories remain- and an ugly one was resurrected on Saturday. Sarkisian confirmed that Ewers sustained a clavicle sprain. The young quarterback will undergo an MRI and his timetable for return remains unclear.

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