Signals clear about Texas QB situation

AUSTIN, Texas -- David Ash finally summed up the Texas quarterback quandary.

When asked whether this was now his offense, the freshman simply said, "Yes."

There you have it. Ash finally has said what the coaches would not say through the past few weeks. The Texas offense, for the foreseeable future, is Ash's to run. Case McCoy is the backup.

Even though the coaches didn't say it, their actions and play calling in the Kansas game confirmed it.

Ash was in on every important snap, with the exception of "wild" formation plays.

After he threw a pick in the red zone, Ash stayed in the game. After he took a 15-yard sack that moved Texas out of field goal range, he was still out there. After Texas came out of halftime, up 26-0 with a 316-10 yardage advantage, Ash was under center.

The game was his. The offense is his. And the wins or losses from here on out will be his.

That doesn't mean Ash is going to be perfect, but the staff clearly feels he gives the Longhorns the best chance to win.

"Each week, he continues to get better in [audibles and game management], and now it's just focusing on those interceptions, those sacks," co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. "We eliminate those, and we're moving in the right direction."

Now, the Texas staff needs to get Ash more seasoning.

"I think it's just him getting there and playing more," Harsin said. "Getting more confident, understanding what we're doing, experiencing some of those things in previous games that have been issues and learning from them."

The lesson that has been learned from watching the passing game in the past few weeks is that the coaches are going to be conservative. Most of the passes are underneath throws or screens. Ash went downfield once against Kansas, and the pass was incomplete.

Ash's second-quarter interception was his fifth, and his sixth turnover in the last three games. The Texas coaches have said repeatedly that the quarterback's top priority is ball security. Ash has not done a great job of that. That, more than anything, is the loudest signal that indeed this is Ash's offense.

To really get this offense going, Ash is going to have to build some confidence in those longer throws that require accuracy and timing. A big reason he doesn't have it right now is because he has not had the time to work with the receivers.

While Texas has spent most of the season trying to develop two quarterbacks, practice time with the first team has been divided. Now, if Ash is truly the full-time starter, he will get the practice snaps he needs to develop rhythm and timing with his wide receivers.

Still, this is going to a painful growing process for the Texas pass offense, and for Ash.

"I have to be realistic," Ash said. "There are a lot of peaks and a lot of valleys."

At least for one week, Texas is riding high with Ash under center.

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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