AUSTIN, Texas -- David Ash found himself in the center of the huddle Sunday.
The Texas quarterback wasn’t exactly barking commands. But he was giving direction just the same.
“If we have to throw the football to win the game, we’re going to do it.
“If we have to run the football to win the game, we’re going to do it. … We just want to win games.”
It wasn’t Knute Rockne in 1928. Or Herb Brooks in ’80. It was, however, David Ash in 2012 trying his best to step up to say he was willing to do whatever it took to make Texas football relevant again.
For that to happen, Texas needs Ash. Not the one who was wide-eyed amidst the blur of jerseys last season. Eight picks over a six-game stretch is just not going to cut it.
What Texas needs is a quarterback who understands his role is not to make the miraculous throw but one that is fine with throwing the ball away on third down. Someone who can balance the ledger with the Longhorns’ rushing attack and someone willing to hold a receiver accountable when he runs the wrong route or drops an easy pass.
It needs someone who inspires toughness, who can push and then have his teammates pull right along with them as they go through the final stretch of the season.
What Texas needs is a more confident and poised Ash.
The Longhorns don’t have that yet. But they could. Maybe not against Wyoming or New Mexico or even Ole Miss. But Ash, with a few games under his belt, appears ready to become a competent and confident quarterback for Texas.
“I don’t feel like I’ve ever struggled with being tough,” Ash said.
Physically that has to be true and could remain true throughout 2012. He’s up to 223 pounds, is willing to run through the line and will take on just about anything.
But his mental fortitude is more of where the concern should lie. Ash might have grown up on a farm but nothing could have prepared him for the 100,000 angry Bevos he faced last season. That’s enough to damage the psyche of even the most mentally tough.
“It didn’t wear on me too bad,” Ash said. “So I didn’t have to pick myself back up.”
That’s a change in tune from when Ash said after the Holiday Bowl that he felt responsible for Texas’ losses. Back then it was clear that Ash was bothered by his performance and how that performance affected others.
Flushing those emotions is certainly a sign of maturity. It also shows a level of cockiness that is paramount to being a successful college quarterback. The quarterback can’t just walk the walk, as would be Ash’s normal tendency, he has to talk to the talk too. And he’s trying.
“We’re going to go out and believe we can beat anybody who is on the field and have that air about us,” Ash said.
Texas can survive with Ash, maybe he can do more. Maybe Ash can be a help instead of the hindrance that he was as a freshman. Ash might be just enough of a quarterback to help Texas gets its swagger and standing on the national scene back.