AUSTIN, Texas -- Case McCoy knows he just needs to be adequate.
Not a superstar. Not a game changer. Just average. OK, maybe slightly above. That's it. That's all the coaches are asking and all they are looking for in the latest Texas quarterback race.
"Everyone knows, whoever it is going to be, we've got enough players around the team that is going to make that person good," McCoy said. "If [the quarterback] does his job then we're going to be fine."
Fine not flashy. Just fine. That's it.
Now Texas has to find the quarterback who can be just fine. The Longhorns started on that journey last week as spring practice began. It's highly unlikely the odyssey will be over by the time spring ball ends April 1. Instead this promises to be a long, strange trip.
Both McCoy and David Ash are ready to go.
"Nothing is being given to anyone," said McCoy, who started five games in 2011. "We're competing. We're all working hard. We are putting it in the coaches' hands, and they are going to make the right decision."
"Spring ball is all about competition," added Ash, who started six games last season, including the Holiday Bowl. "Coach (Mack) Brown said all the spots are open."
Brown also said he is tired of not having a key part of the offense hold up its end of the deal. He wants balance. He wants a quarterback who can manage a game, not manage to lose a game.
"We have really got to improve our passing game better this spring, and the emphasis will be on the passing game; running routes, getting better, quarterback throws to receivers, tight ends and backs," Brown said.
Brown's expectations are tempered. This, after all, is a coach who at points last season said great quarterback play was required to be a great team. But Brown pulled back from that statement later in the season as it became evident he didn't have a great quarterback.
So now he too just needs someone to steady the ship and avoid the Sirens' song of the lurking defensive back.
"We didn't lose a game last year when we had two turnovers or less," Brown pointed out.
McCoy had five on his own against Baylor. Ash had eight picks against four touchdowns. These are the leading candidates to run the Texas offense in 2012.
Both said things have changed. They are better.
"I know the game better,'' McCoy said. "(In 2011) I was a sophomore, but I was playing like a freshman. I am older now. We are all more mature and have different mechanics we've been working (on) all offseason.
"It's part of the game, developing yourself to become a better quarterback, to become a better leader, become a better teammate, and I think that is something we are all doing as we go through this spring," McCoy added.
For Ash, overcoming the overwhelming has been the main focus.
"Getting it to the point to where the offense wasn't really a thought but all my thoughts was on the defense, and the plays and the calls and the adjustment that I would make on the line of scrimmage would just come naturally," he said.
What looked unnatural from both were any throws under pressure or that were required to travel any significant distance. Ash did show flashes with a couple of zipped passes, particularly the sideline throw to Marquise Goodwin in the Missouri game. But overall mechanics were an issue.
"I spent a lot of time working on my fundamentals this month and a half we had from the bowl game to spring," he said. "I feel like I'm better. I'm trying to become more consistent with that."
McCoy spent much of his time absorbing the offense.
"It's learning everybody's spot on the field, knowing what everybody is supposed to do," he said. "I've watched Kellen Moore in this offense and that's what he did. He knew everybody's position and knew everybody's job."
But it is not everybody else's jobs that elicit worries from the masses, it's one person's job, the quarterback. That is the job that is most vital to Texas's success in 2012. That's the role Ash and McCoy are trying to fill. Not with flash but with some substance and enough smarts to take Texas to the next level.
"Once we pick that one person and let him go and let him run, I know it is going to be good," McCoy said. "This team has the players on it that we need to compete and to get back into the race for this place."
Carter Strickland covers University of Texas sports and recruiting for HornsNation
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