David Ash was a better quarterback in 2012 than he was in 2011. Which is not saying a whole lot.
The Texas quarterback completed 56.9 percent of his passes in 2011; he threw eight interceptions and only four touchdowns. Ash took 16 sacks. But he was only a freshman. In 2012, Ash was much better. He completed 67.3 percent of his passes; he threw eight interceptions again but 19 touchdowns, and his sacks dipped to 10.
Still, Ash had some lousy games.
* OU: 13 of 29 passing, 113 yards, two interceptions, no TDs.
* Kansas: 8 of 16 passing, 63 yards, two interceptions, no TDs.
* TCU: 10 of 21 passing, 104 yards, two interceptions, no TDs.
Those kinds of performances get a team beat. The Longhorns were routed by OU, lost at home to TCU and needed a late rally to beat hapless KU with Case McCoy in relief.
So the question becomes, can Ash keep producing some high-production games (for example, 30 of 37 for 304 yards against OSU, three TDs, one interception) while eliminating the disastrous games?
Texas went 61/2 seasons with excellent quarterbacking — Vince Young and Colt McCoy. Historic quarterbacking, really. But for three straight seasons, Texas has had quarterbacking that is sub-par in any conference, much less the QB-rich Big 12.
“Vince and Colt won a lot of football games,” Mack Brown said. “Vince was 30‑2, and Colt was like 45‑7 or 45‑9 or something. That’s our load, but that’s our expectation for David. David has grown up. He’s learned a whole lot. There were times last year that he played like Colt and he played like Vince and looked as good as anybody in the country, and then there were others times where he struggled some.\
“But we think we’ve got better players around him now. We should be better in the offensive line. He is much more confident than at any time. I thought his comeback in the Alamo Bowl really, really helped him with our team, with his confidence, and I think it helps him nationally, and I think he’ll have a big year.”
Texas trailed Oregon State 27-17 in the fourth quarter in San Antonio, but Ash threw two touchdown passes in the final 81/2 minutes to lift UT to a 31-27 victory.
Now, Brown is going to an uptempo offense and expresses confidence that Ash will shine.
“First, we think that David is ready to go up tempo now,” Brown said. “He’s in command. He’s very confident. He knows what we want. We didn’t change the names of the plays. We didn’t change the plays as such when Major (Applewhite, offensive coordinator) took over, and we’ve gone up tempo. But Major and (assistant coach) Darrell Wyatt still have the same things in place. We’re just going at a much faster tempo. We want to go even faster than we did this spring.\
“We think David’s ready to do that. We’re a faster team. We’re an older team. We should be a mature offense. Two years ago our offense wasn’t very good. Last year at times they were really good. But we want to be more balanced. That’s the difference with uptempo than when we had Colt McCoy. We didn’t run the ball very well, and we want to continue to run the ball and be balanced in this offense.”
But Ash has to perform. Uptempo offense with shoddy quarterback play is not a pretty sight. And Texas knows what shoddy quarterbacking can do.