After the game, he signed more autographs than the number of passes he threw during the contest.
But David Ash made the most of them. The freshman quarterback attempted just seven passes, completing four with three of them going for at least 24 yards. In his third career start, Ash threw for 125 yards and ran for 59 more on only four carries. He was sacked only once and, most importantly, did not commit a turnover for the first time in more than a month.
“He’s really getting efficient as a quarterback,” said head coach Mack Brown. “The third down and four where he ran for 47 yards was a good decision. He made some great throws.”
Ash made significant strides in Texas’ 52-20 win over Texas Tech, its seventh straight over the Red Raiders at home. In his first game after being made the full-time starter, Ash averaged just 3.5 yards per attempt. Against Texas Tech, that number skyrocketed to 17.9. Ash also remained interception free after being picked off five times in his last three games.
Decision-making had given Ash problems in previous contests, but the few times his number was called, he made the smart move. On the third-and-four, the final play of the first quarter, Ash looked at two receivers, saw they weren’t open and took off for a 47-yard gain. Later in the first half, Ash was flushed out of the pocket, realized no one was open and threw the ball away. Joe Bergeron scored two plays later.
“That’s hard to learn,” Ash said. “You always want to keep competing and make that big play. To be able to realize nothing’s there — they covered it, you can’t run, don’t take the sack and throw it away — that’s huge.”
Case McCoy replaced Ash in the fourth quarter and capped off his only drive with a 31-yard touchdown toss to Darius White on his only throw. When McCoy and Ash were splitting snaps earlier in the season, a few players admitted Ash was the quieter quarterback. But, according to some after the game Saturday, Ash is gaining command of the Longhorn huddle.
“He’s been a lot more confident these last couple of weeks,” said junior wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. “He’s definitely assumed more of a leadership role. He’s matured a lot more.”
Goodwin, like Ash, was efficient and explosive with the few chances he got. His three touches — two runs on reverses and a reception — netted 82 yards. Mike Davis also had catches of 24 and 48 yards. Goodwin’s lone catch was a 37-yarder in the third quarter and characterized a downfield passing game that had been nonexistent in the last three games, a stretch where Texas had just one pass play of at least 24 yards.
With the Longhorns running for 439 yards, their second-straight week with at least 400 yards rushing, they didn’t need Ash to do much.
“When we did throw it, we were very effective,” Brown said. “We’d like to be more balanced. When you’re running the ball as well as we were, it’s hard to make yourself throw it.”
If Ash keeps this up, he’ll be signing more autographs. But if Texas keeps running the ball like this, he might not be throwing more passes.
Printed on Monday, November 7, 2011 as: Ash leads offense, shows improvement in dominating win