The “or” is no more at the quarterback spot on the Texas depth chart.
David Ash has been named the starter for the opener against Wyoming, and will have every opportunity to cement his hold on the job. However, the coaching staff is adamant that his competition in the quarterback battle, Case McCoy will continue to see snaps.
“We are very excited about David. We are looking forward to having him go into this game and play well and just do what he’s been doing,” offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said.
”Case continues to be a guy we feel comfortable with putting in a game at any time, and he can play. We are really fired up about both quarterbacks right now.”
It’s not much in the way of clarity, but having an established number one is a significant step forward for the offense from last season.
“At this point last year we announced the starting quarterback, and he’s not here anymore and another quarterback is gone,” head coach Mack Brown said. “Everything has changed and we’re headed back in the right direction.”
That new path includes a much more confident quarterback. Last season Ash seemed overwhelmed at times with all the responsibilities that came with being the starting quarterback as a freshman, and he struggled. Ash threw only four touchdown passes in 11 games – three less than McCoy – and added eight picks to boot. The exact opposite of the 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio quarterbacks strive for.
He also had issues reading defenses and getting the ball out quickly, which directly attributed to the 16 sacks the Longhorns suffered under his time behind center.
However, heading into his sophomore campaign Ash is significantly more confident and in control of the offense.
“David is much more confident now than at any time last year, including the Holiday Bowl, or at any time during spring practice,” Brown said. “I think the way that [Ash and Case McCoy] have competed throughout the summer and spring practice has really helped. It’s pressed both of them to handle pressure.”
Ash may be more self-assured, but the fact remains that almost every time the quarterback position is mentioned both Ash and McCoy’s name come up.
Harsin doesn’t often speak about one without referencing the other, and it seems everyone on the Texas staff is treading lightly on the subject. Even the players seem to be conflicted. They’re all verbally behind Ash, but some will admit he still has work to do in some areas.
“Even though David will be the first to go out it doesn’t mean that Case won’t come in and play,” offensive lineman Trey Hopkins said. “We’re going to need both of them. David brings a great new face, he’s very confident in his passing skills.
But Case brings a stronger leadership role to the team...David is still growing as a leader, but he’s made great strides from last year.”
Many of his teammates shared this sentiment. They’re thrilled to have Ash as the starter, but they also feel that McCoy has a lot to contribute.
No matter what Ash does this season, he will always have the shadow of McCoy looming behind him. The first time he throws a pick the whispers will start and his first bad game will come with a firestorm of criticism and backlash from the Longhorn faithful.
However, Ash is a tough-minded student athlete, and he’s got the right attitude to endure any issues he encounters on or off the field.
“There’s always going to be some adversity that you’re going to face in the game whenever things aren’t going your way,” Ash said. “You’ve got to learn to push through that and have a good attitude and have fun even during those times.”