Young signal caller struggling, unable to rack up passing yards, avoid costly turnovers this year

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Case McCoy #6 and David Ash #14

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

With 12 weeks gone in the regular season, the Longhorns have yet to identify a reliable quarterback.

Mack Brown joked during the preseason that if he couldn’t find a quarterback by Thanksgiving, he’d be a truck driver. The head coach isn’t laughing about his QB situation anymore. Not with his two remaining signal-callers struggling to throw the ball.

Freshman David Ash has started the last five games, thrown six interceptions against no touchdowns and led Texas to a 2-3 record. Sophomore Case McCoy has played in the last four games and is responsible for the Longhorns’ only two touchdowns in more than eight quarters.

“Neither one of them has stepped up and taken over,” Brown said. “We will look at playing both again this week.”

A decision won’t be made on a starter until Wednesday night or Thursday.

Ash is 20 of 45 for 197 yards in his last two games, losses to Missouri and Kansas State. He was pulled after throwing his second interception against KSU on the first drive of the second half.

“I thought David played too hard early, then pressed and didn’t relax,” Brown said. “We’ve got to get him to relax because he’s done some great things for us this year.”

Ash was not available for comment and has only addressed the media this season in select post-game settings.

Turnovers have plagued Ash all year. He’s been intercepted eight times in 10 games and lost a fumble against Oklahoma. The only game he started and did not turn the ball over was against Texas Tech on Nov. 5, when Ash attempted just seven passes.

He may have blown his chance to start the final game of the 118-year rivalry with Texas A&M on Thursday after his underwhelming performance against Kansas State on Saturday, his second in as many weeks.

“Turnovers are always a negative for us and we’ve got to eliminate those things,” said Bryan Harsin, the play-caller and QB coach, after Saturday’s loss.

Read between the lines. Ash could have a head set on when Texas takes the field against the Aggies.

Ash hasn’t taken the Longhorns where they wanted to go since assuming the starting role. In his two wins against Kansas and Tech, he threw a total of 25 times while Texas totaled 880 rushing yards. But when leading rushers Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron went down with injuries, the run game stalled as well as the passing game.

“We had a hard time passing the past couple weeks because we weren’t able to get our run game going,” said junior wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. “And that’s really the main part of our offense, running the ball. It’s hard to get deep passes when we can’t really run like we want to.”

But Ash didn’t start the last five games because he was the best passer. In the end, the coaches liked his mobility more than McCoy’s.

“He’s a stronger runner and he gave you the ability to run our option off of the speed sweep packages,” Brown said.

Ash showed his athletic ability with a 47-yard run against Tech, but hasn’t scored on the ground since the KU game on Oct. 29. But his teammates aren’t blaming the freshman for his rookie woes.

They aren’t blaming McCoy for his either, though, as both are new to Harsin’s scheme.

“It’s what to be expected,” said senior left guard David Snow. “You have two really young quarterbacks and a brand new offense, it’s just really hard.”

Still, if Ash doesn’t start on Thanksgiving, he’s likely to play should McCoy struggle.

“We’re developing two quarterbacks for these types of situations,” Harsin said.

That’s not what Mack Brown envisioned three months ago.