• Best case scenario

    Case McCoy's late-game heroics against Texas A&M helped Texas send their rivals off to the SEC with a bad taste in their mouths.
    Case McCoy's late-game heroics against Texas A&M helped Texas send their rivals off to the SEC with a bad taste in their mouths.

    Contrary to every statistical metric screaming, "No!", David Ash will open the season as the starting quarterback for the Longhorns.


    I get what coaches see in Ash. The big body. The arm. The surprising athleticism, the potential for him to improve markedly in his next three seasons. Ash has the kind of ceiling Case McCoy -- despite his bloodlines -- couldn't sniff.


    But can we stop pretending Ash was the better quarterback last season? Conventional stats say he wasn't. Intricate stats do, too. That's why I have no problem with Mack Brown opening up Tuesday's Media Days press conference insisting the starting quarterback spot is still up for grabs. I don't think he's telling the truth; but I really hope he is.


    McCoy started five games for Texas last season, going 3-2. His losses? No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 17 Baylor. He threw three touchdowns and four interceptions against the Bears, snapping the streak of 124 consecutive passes to begin his career without throwing a pick, a school record.


    The junior-to-be took Texas down the field in the final seconds against Texas A&M Thanksgiving night, giving Mack Brown one of the biggest wins of his career*

     

    *1) USC, 2006 2) Michigan, 2005 3) Nebraska, 1998 4) Ohio State, 2005 5) Texas A&M, 2011.


    That night alone, along with McCoy nearly taking Texas to a win against Kansas State in a game Ash was so miserable in, proves McCoy is the better big-game player.


    But the stats can paint that picture, too.


    Against AQ teams (BCS), McCoy was No. 38 in the nation with a 133.40 passer rating, right behind Landry Jones. Ash had a 105.80 rating.


    In the fourth quarter, McCoy completed 62 percent of his passes (34-for-55) with a touchdown, an interception and 17 first downs. Ash hardly completed half of his (24-for-45, or 55.6 percent) with an identical TD-INT ratio and 12 first downs gained.


    Their third-down splits are, well, split: McCoy completed 55.6 of his passes for four touchdowns, three interceptions (he only had four all year) and 20 first downs. Ash connected on 55.8 of his, threw a score and a pick, and gained 21 first downs.


    McCoy threw for two more touchdowns in the red zone than Ash did.


    Brown says his team needs a quarterback to provide "explosive plays" and "protect the ball better."


    Ash tossed eight interceptions -- 4.6 percent of his attempts. McCoy threw four -- 2.8 percent.


    Fumbles? Ash, four; McCoy, three.


    And if you're talking about explosive plays, or even the ability to gain yards on a consistent basis, it's not even close, according to the popular metric stat Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt, or ANYPA.


    ANYPA takes into consideration a quarterback's passing attempts, passing yards, interceptions, touchdowns, sacks and yards lost via sack to illustrate how many yards a quarterback is worth on each passing play.


    Each time he dropped back to pass, McCoy was good for 6.43 yards. Ash? 4.81. To put that into context, COLT McCoy averaged 6.74 yards per attempt in 2009.


    So, again, who's the better candidate?