Tech quarterback learning patience

Updated: October 29, 2003, 6:14 PM ET
ESPN

RUSTON, La. -- Though he has thrown for 6.8 miles in his career, it wasn't until Luke McCown's senior season, that the big picture came into focus.

McCown's mentality -- to throw for a score on each and every play -- had its plusses and minuses: last season it produced a 19-touchdown, 19-interception season, forcing McCown to regroup, refocus and get better.

This season McCown has thrown for 2,489 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has also completed 59.2 percent of his passes and has a passer efficiency rating of 131.5, which ranks second in the Western Athletic Conference.

McCown hopes to maintain that efficiency when Tech (4-4) travels to Baton Rouge to face No. 7 LSU (7-1) Saturday night.

"Luke is just doing a fantastic job," Tech coach Jack Bicknell said. "From last spring he's really taken it seriously and he understands that if we punt, you know what? It's better than turning the ball over."

McCown knows all too well the damage turnovers can cause. Just two weeks ago with 40 seconds left to play in the first half against Hawaii, the Tech defense came up with a big turnover.

Jerron Wishom picked off Timmy Chang and returned it 24 yards to the Hawaii 16-yard line. Trailing 24-17, Tech had a golden opportunity to get at least a field goal before the half ended.

On Tech's first play, McCown took a shot into the end zone looking for Shawn Piper. But Piper had double coverage and safety David Gilmore stepped in for an easy interception.

Tech came away with zero points and the Bulldogs lost 44-41. It was the kind of pass that has gotten McCown in trouble in the past, but has occurred with far less frequency this season.

"I've finally gotten to a point where, I don't know if it's maturity or what, but I understand how to manage a game," McCown said. "I wish it didn't take me three years to understand it. I'm just glad it's happening my senior year."

McCown threw seven interceptions in his first 174 pass attempts this season. But in his last 157 throws he has thrown just one pick -- the one against Hawaii.

"He believes every play is designed to score, but he's gotten a whole lot smarter," receiver D.J. Curry said.

McCown is now on pace for the best interception ratio of his career. Last season, McCown threw an interception every 26.5 pass attempts. This season he has thrown an interception every 41.5 attempts. His previous best percentage was in 2001 when he threw a career-low 14 picks, or one every 33.5 attempts.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index