Texas' biggest question mark entering the football season was whether the Longhorns had a quarterback capable of producing big plays.
David Ash was named the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback of the Week after the sophomore completed 19 of 23 passes for a career-high 326 yards and four touchdowns in Texas' 66-31 win over Ole Miss.
“We feel we took a major step forward in our passing game,” said Texas coach Mack Brown. “We have to continue to throw it down field. We've been pleased with our running game. It was really physical Saturday night. But our ability to throw the ball down field has to pick up, and it started Saturday night.”
Brown said Ash has come a long way since he was the fourth-team quarterback entering last season. Case McCoy and Garrett Gilbert were listed 1-2 on the depth chart. Connor Wood redshirted. When Gilbert transferred, Ash suddenly was in the mix as a true freshman.
“At the start, we had a little option package for him,” Brown said. “It's probably more on us (as coaches) than David last year that we put him out there in front of 101,000 people and he had his little package. What limited thing we asked him to do he did well early.
“After Garrett transferred, (Ash) took it all on himself. It was very difficult when we put the whole package on him. That probably was too much. We saw him grow a lot (in the bowl game and offseason)... Our last scrimmage before our first game, he hit 14 of 15 passes. He's very accurate.”
SMITH COMPILES GAUDY STATS
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has thrown nine touchdown passes and only nine incomplete passes. Smith leads the Big 12 in total offense (408.5 yards a game) and passing yards (367.0).
What stands out is Smith has completed 86 percent of his passes.
“He's being doing it all camp,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “You have to look at what he did during the offseason from a physical standpoint. Something happens to guys when they're seniors. His body is different. He's bigger, he's stronger, he's faster, he's more confident.”
Smith has rushed for 83 yards in two games, but Holgorsen said Smith's role is to use his arm not his legs.
“We could do some things that would give him the label of being a running quarterback, but that's not what our offense is,” Holgorsen said. “He's getting rushing yards because he's doing a good job of getting out of bad situations, getting out of the pocket to extend a play.”
BAYLOR NEXT UP FOR MONROE
Louisiana-Monroe upset Arkansas in overtime and last week pushed Auburn to the brink before losing in overtime. The Warhawks host Baylor on Friday night in a nationally televised game.
“You hope your players are always ready regardless of the situation,” said Baylor coach Art Briles. “But what Louisiana-Monroe did the opening week at Arkansas and the national attention they garnered was huge. If you didn't have the respect you should have had, it certainly would help motivate you.”
Baylor is riding an eight-game winning streak dating back to last season.
JAYHAWKS TRY TO SLOW IT DOWN
In a conference that features up-tempo spread offenses, Kansas coach Charlie Weis said his game plan is to slow the game down.
“When you feel there's a talent discrepancy, the one thing you have to try to do is play more complementary football,” Weis said. “Although all offensive coordinators like to sling it all over the field every play, for us, that does not bode well to do it that way.
“We have a couple of decent runners. Our team is committed to running the football. The slower we can play the game the better for us.”
IOWA STATE DEFENSE HAS BEEN DOMINANT
Iowa State's defense hasn't allowed a touchdown the past two games, the first time that's happened in more than 50 years.
The challenge increases following a bye week. The Big 12 features five teams ranked in the top 11 nationally in total offense.
“Our kids look forward to the challenge to see if we're improved like we believe we are, and we see if we can keep points to a minimum and play great defense,” said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads. “That's what you have to have if you're going to finish in the upper half of this league.”
The Cyclones have seven senior starters on defense.