As August gets rolling, football is back in the air on the Forty Acres and as such several of us at Rant Sports are previewing those players among the two-deep depth chart for the 2013 Texas Longhorns.
Today, junior quarterback David Ash is our focus.
The Belton, Texas native by almost all accounts is closer than ever to delivering on the massive promise that preceded him upon his arrival to Austin, and in fact could be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 Conference this fall. How Ash performs, however, will be due not only to his own adoption of the new Texas up-tempo offense, but also how quickly those around him adapt as well.
With the unexpected departure of a primary wide receiving target, and lingering injuries to two others, Ash will be working with a corps that, while talented, still has plenty to prove. The test for the Texas quarterback will be his ability to stay consistent and not turn inward when the struggles come, because they will come with consistency in a Big 12 that will be challenging but not nearly as brutal as in past seasons.
In 2012, Ash had a tendency to allow one bad play to affect several plays ahead, if not series. A prime example of this was his rough performance against the Kansas Jayhawks in the middle of the conference slate last season where Mack Brown‘s hand was forced to bring in Case McCoy in the 2nd half to bring the team to a bumbling victory late in the 4th quarter.
Given reports not only from spring practice, but from summer workouts as well, the overall confidence the team has in Ash as a leader is much greater and there is a general assumption he will be able to let the rough plays slide off his back and move forward with a quarterback’s most important asset– a fine-tuned sense of short memory.
The second-half of last year’s Alamo Bowl victory over the Oregon State Gophers showed short glimpses of what Ash was able to do with his feet in a more wide-open and flexible offensive scheme. With a general emphasis on speed and play-calling volume at the center of the Texas offense this fall, he will be called upon to make passing plays happen with ability to scramble and create space to throw as much as asked to pick up a defined amount of yardage on designed passing plays.
Traditionally, Big 12 quarterbacks have a collective epiphany — a moment sometime between their sophomore and junior seasons when things just click and it all comes together. Mack Brown, Major Applewhite and the Texas coaching staff have hinted that Ash has encountered this change — in subtle language during press conferences and interviews — without saying so directly.
If so, Texas fans can expect an entirely new quarterback in 2013. One who can be a play-maker when necessary, but also understands that being a leader of a team with an unprecedented level of scrutiny and pressure is just as important.
This David Ash is the David Ash Texas must have under center for the expected standard to again become the norm in 2013.