This has been a difficult season for Texas Longhorns starting quarterback David Ash. After suffering a concussion in the second game of the season, he was forced to sit out the following week. This weekend, he made his return to the field vs. the KSU Wildcats, and was again forced to miss the second half with symptoms of what appears to be another head injury.
It’s unclear whether or not Ash suffered another concussion, which would be his second in 3 games, or if he simply was never fully healed in the first place. Regardless, head injuries are certainly nothing to take lightly, and Ash’s health clearly has to be the top priority from here on out.
At this point, there has been no news on the extent of his most recent injury and nothing to indicate how long he will be out. He may miss no time at all; he may miss the whole season for precautionary measures. No one, including the staff, knows. The Longhorns do have an eleven-day rest before their next game, but two concussions (if it is in fact two separate injuries) in a month is a bit alarming and the Longhorns can neither be too careful nor too prepared. One thing is for certain; the coaches will not rush Ash back into action before he’s ready. Not again.
If the junior quarterback has indeed suffered two concussions, the Longhorns may want to start preparing for a future without Ash, just in case.
The team knows what they have in back-up quarterback Case McCoy. McCoy played well in the first half last weekend, but once the defenses took away the running game and the short pass, he was rendered ineffective. He also played well in securing the win vs. the Wildcats, leading two scoring drives in the final two quarters, but with McCoy, the team becomes one dimensional. Yes, if he limits the turnovers, he can be a good manager, but if the coaches truly feel they are in contention for the Big 12 crown, a game manager isn’t going to be enough.
Depending on the extent of Ash’s injuries, the Texas staff will soon face a huge decision.
In a perfect world, true freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes would be able to take a redshirt this season; however, things aren’t going as planned for the Longhorns, so if Ash indeed is forced to miss more than a game, it’s time to groom the young Mr. Swoopes.
Swoopes provides another element to the position that McCoy, no matter how well he manages the game, cannot bring. Swoopes, like Ash, has the ability to make plays with his feet and the Longhorns are a much, much better team when they have a quarterback that provides a dual-threat option.
Will he give the Longhorns a better chance to win now? It’s hard to say. He may or may not be ready, and McCoy has the experience. But if Ash is forced to miss a lot of time, then why not start planning for the future?
The bottom line is this: If Ash is only out for a game, then perhaps it would be best to try their luck with McCoy. However, if there is a chance he could miss more than one more game, or even worse, a chance that his health could be endangered if he played again at all this season, Swoopes has to be the guy moving forward.
Even if the staff does decide to burn Swoopes’ redshirt and Ash returns sooner rather than later (though his return should not be rushed), then at least Swoopes will have gained some valuable experience that he will carry into next season, when he is the primary back-up to Ash.
The Longhorns need to be very, very careful. Ash’s health is of the utmost concern. If there is any doubt about his return at all (and this point, it’s all a big “if”), they need to protect Ash and begin to plan for the future. Just in case.