It had to be one of the most unusual injuries an Alabama football player has suffered. In what was basically a wasted season for Mike McCoy in 2005, his freshman year under Coach Mike Shula, McCoy was involved in two snaps in a game at Tennessee. One came on offense. The other came from Smokey the Vols’ mascot hound in pre-game warmups.
Mike McCoy, a 6-2, 205-pound junior wide receiver, was going through routine drills prior to the start of the 2005 game in Knoxville. After catching a pass in the end zone at the end of the field where Alabama was warming up, McCoy got close to Smokey, who took a snap out of McCoy’s rear. How bad? Bad enough to bleed, Shula reported after the game.
It was natural that the question of the dog bite came up when McCoy met with sportswriters following Wednesday’s Bama practice.
“That’s in the past,” McCoy said. “It was unusual, but it happened. Anyway, I’ve put it to the side. It’s irrelevant to what we have to do.”
What McCoy and his second-ranked Alabama teammates have to do is figure out a way to beat Tennessee when the Crimson Tide returns to Knoxville this weekend. Bama, 7-0, takes on the Vols, 3-4, in a nationally televised (ESPN) game beginning at 7:45 p.m. EDT (6:45 p.m. central) in Neyland Stadium.
McCoy was considered by Alabama Coach Nick Saban to be Bama’s most experienced returning wide receiver this year in an offense that was rebuilding its receiving corps. That experience came last year when he was a starter in nine games and had 28 receptions for 207 yards. As a freshman he played a total of five snaps, spread over three games, and had no receptions. It cost him a year of eligibility.
McCoy, who suffered a strained hamstring in a win at Georgia and missed the Kentucky game, came back against Ole Miss last week and had his first touchdown reception of the year.
“It felt good to be back,” McCoy said. He said he didn’t like having to sit out. Surprisingly, considering the Smokey conversation, he had a dog analogy. “It’s like a dog that’s been eating steak and has to go back to eating dog food,” he said of his absence from the playing field.
McCoy’s touchdown against Ole Miss came on a razzle-dazzle play, quarterback John Parker Wilson handing off to tailback Glen Coffee, Wilson getting the ball back on a lateral, and then hitting McCoy between two defenders on a 30-yard touchdown.
“I didn’t know until I saw the tape how close the defenders were,” McCoy said. “It was a great pass. I saw the ball in the air and I got it.”
He said when the play was called in the huddle he didn’t know who the receiver would be. “It could be Julio (Julio Jones) or me, depending on who is open. I just said, ‘Lord, it’s me and you. Let’s go get it.’”
McCoy knows he has his work cut out for him this week going against a Tennessee secondary that is tied for first in the nation with 14 interceptions. The Vols are led by their fabulous safety, Eric Berry.
“He’s a great player,” McCoy said. “They have great players. They are very physical. They have a good secondary. Berry’s good. He comes at you downhill.” McCoy said he caught two passes on Berry last year when Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson completed 32 passes for 363 yards in a 41-17 win in Tuscaloosa.
There has been a prediction for rain in Knoxville Saturday night. McCoy is not phased. “If you can catch the ball in the rain, you can catch anything,” he said. “Nobody likes to play in the rain, but you tend to focus on the ball. It’s part of being a receiver. That’s what I’m here for, to do my job.”
McCoy said if it is raining the receivers won’t wear gloves because they get slick.
Hopefully it won’t be raining cats and dogs...at least not dogs.