Who should wear the helmet?


Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

There’s an old saying, “two heads are better than one.” But that’s certainly not the case with quarterbacks. A fact that Mack Brown and Texas’ coaching staff must realize before this program spirals completely into an abyss.

The best teams in the country are led by outstanding signal callers, and each member of the BCS Top 10 is led by a firmly established starting quarterback. From a battle-hardened veteran in Kansas State’s Colin Klein to Texas A&M’s freshman sensation, Johnny Manziel.

These schools are successful for a reason. There is no doubt about their direction under center.

For years the Longhorns were in that situation. Major Applewhite, then Chris Simms, followed by Vince Young and capped off by Colt McCoy. But after McCoy stepped off the 40 Acres the Longhorns’ record and standing has plummeted.

Not coincidentally, Texas’ quarterback situation has been sticky during this three-year stretch.

Garrett Gilbert flopped as McCoy’s successor. And it didn’t get much better after, as David Ash and Case McCoy have battled back in forth in a bout of mediocrity for the starting job.

In all, the Longhorns have switched starting quarterbacks six times in their last 25 games, good for a winning percentage of 64. To put that number in perspective, the Longhorns had an 85-percent mark from 2006-2009 with Case’s older brother at the helm, and never finished worse than 13th in the final AP poll.

Top 10 finishes and Big 12 titles are the standard Texas is held to, not the minor bowl games and brief flashes of excitement this team has produced the last three seasons.

The Texas program is on a downtrodden path, and the quickest way to alleviate its issues would be to find steady quarterback play. The only thing is, no one is sure if that player is on the roster.

Ash, who had been the Longhorns starter for every game in 2012 until Texas’ loss to Kansas State last weekend, certainly didn’t earn a ringing endorsement from Mack Brown as to his future under center. And the Longhorns this week reached out to two JUCO signal-callers.

“I see David being a good player in the future,” Brown said for the second time when asked if Ash was his starter in the future, days before the Kansas State contest.

Ash has shown a high ceiling as Texas’ starter this year. He’s passed for 2,458 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions, not to mention the nation’s 20th best passer rating. However, those positives have been overshadowed because of his shoddy performances against Oklahoma, Kansas and TCU. In those games Ash completed 47 percent of his passes for 280 yards, zero touchdowns and six interceptions.

In each of those contests McCoy replaced Ash as the starter in the fourth quarter, immediately providing a spark. He marched Texas down the field against Kansas to secure a victory and almost provided a miraculous Thanksgiving comeback for the second year in a row. He played well in his starting opportunity against Kansas State, where he went 26-of-32 for 312 yards and two touchdowns.

However, McCoy did throw a pair of interceptions which resulted in a pair of touchdowns for the Wildcats. Turnovers have been McCoy’s bugaboo. He’s brilliant for stretches, but then his spastic-like play results in interceptions. Add that to his below-average arm strength and its hard to envision him in more than his previous role – a competent backup capable of providing immediate energy in a pinch. A relief
pitcher, essentially.

This leaves the Longhorns with an issue. They can either start a potentially great quarterback, who is marred by inconsistency issues, or a backup-level quarterback masquerading in a starter’s role.

Neither option is particularly great, but the Longhorns must choose. Alternating quarterbacks is not a recipe for success. It only results in locker room rifts and a poor win-loss record.

The Big 12 is a quarterback driven league, and without an unquestioned standout at the position, the Longhorns won’t compete for championships any time soon.