Texas QB not the same guy OU rattled last year
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
10/10/12 at 3:29 AM
NORMAN - Oklahoma defenders walked into the Cotton Bowl last October licking their chops over playing Texas' naive quarterbacks.
"Always," tackle Casey Walker confirmed. "Always."
"That was our game plan, try to rattle their two young quarterbacks," safety Tony Jefferson said. "This game isn't easy to play in, especially at the quarterback position, coming in at such a young age. If we could get them on their heels, they would throw the ball up a little."
Freshman David Ash and sophomore Case McCoy threw it up a lot, actually. They both turned it over twice. The Sooners turned an Ash interception and a McCoy fumble directly into touchdowns. It was a lopsided fight from Texas' first series.
Expect Ash, entrenched as Texas' starter, to punch back Saturday afternoon.
"Last year, he had all the tools he needed to shred a defense," OU defensive end R.J. Washington said. "I think this year is giving him confidence to have that starting role instead of, 'Go in this series, go out this series.'
"When you have more confidence in yourself and you know that your coaches are behind you, you're going to play better. You're going to not worry about making mistakes. You're going to loosen up and just go play, and he's been playing great every game."
Ash enters his second OU-Texas experience as the nation's third-most efficient passer. He has completed 78 percent of his passes, second nationally behind West Virginia's Geno Smith, for 1,276 yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception.
The Longhorns lost their first game last week against West Virginia, but it wasn't because of quarterback play. Ash went 22-of-29 for 269 yards and a score.
Washington is right. Ash is a more confident player than the freshman who was badly shaken by the Sooners.
"They're the same person, but not the same football player," Texas guard Mason Walters said. "I think there's been a lot of maturing going on for everybody, and David maybe even more so. From last year to this year, time preparing, understanding the offense, understanding the importance of his role. ... I'm really proud of the guy for how far he's come."
"I've got a lot more experience," Ash said. "I've got a better team around me."
That is an important point.
Freshman Johnathan Gray has arrived to spark a Texas rushing attack that averages 209 yards per game. Primary receivers Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis and Marquise Goodwin have combined to catch eight touchdown passes. The Longhorns' line has allowed five sacks in five games, after surrendering eight to OU a year ago.
Ash has a better feel for the players around him, and for the imaginative system favored by offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin.
"As much movement that goes on in that offense, that's hard for any player to adjust to his first year," OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "You can see Ash is much more aware of what they're trying to accomplish by the trades, the shifts, the motions. He sees things much better and is playing with a lot of confidence."
"It seems like the coach puts a lot of trust in him," OU cornerback Aaron Colvin noticed. "Everything kind of revolves around him."
As Texas coach Mack Brown said: "We're asking him to win the games now, and he's doing what we're asking."
Basically, Ash is in a better place than he was last year when he spent too much time either on his back or chasing Sooners defensive backs.
"I like where David is at," Harsin said. "He's playing well. He's making good decisions. He's preparing well ...
"I think he's excited about the opportunity to play Oklahoma again."
Original Print Headline: Texas QB has grown into job
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Texas' David Ash looks to pass against West Virginia on Saturday in Austin, Texas. ERIC GAY/Associated Press