David Ash: Just Doing His Job

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By Ross Lucksinger
Posted Sep 19, 2012
Copyright © 2014 InsideTexas.com


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David Ash (Texas Sports Photography)

Following his recognition as the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback of the Week, David Ash has begun to receive hype as a Heisman Trophy candidate. But the hype will be short-lived, both because of and despite Ash simply doing his job.

The national hype has already begun.

CBS has David Ash in the top 10 of its Heisman watch and ESPN is asking if this is his “career breakout game.”

Much of this is simply a product of “hey look the quarterback for Texas has a bunch of yards,” but the numbers are no joke. Against Ole Miss he threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns in a performance that included 15 consecutive completions, three short of the school record set by Colt McCoy against Oklahoma State in 2008. Through three games, Ash has 703 yards, seven touchdown, no interceptions, and a completion percentage of 76.4. He's ranked fourth nationally in passer efficiency (incidentally, Oklahoma State QB J.W. Walsh is right behind Ash at No. 5).

But Ash threw for so many yards because that's what the game called for. There will be plenty of games this season where he will not throw for many yards, because that's what the game will call for.

His numbers from the victory at Ole Miss are impressive, but let's compare them with the season-opener against Wyoming: 20 of 27, 156 yards, one touchdown. In a game that featured both Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron going over 100 yards rushing, a buck-50 is all the game called for from Ash.

Against Ole Miss, the game called for a lot more. Specifically, it's what the Ole Miss defense called for. Every time he went deep it was the correct read. It didn't matter if the ball was under-thrown, it was still a completion because the single-covered receiver could come back for it. Texas head coach Mack Brown even said that the “under-thrown” balls were a result of Ash doing what he's been told.

“Really, truly, we've been overthrowing too many balls,” Brown said. “If you under-throw it, you've got a great chance to get it. And usually the wide receivers come back and get it. We've been encouraging (Ash) to let the guys catch it, and been challenging the receivers to catch it. Overthrown balls are punts. You don't have a chance to catch them. I thought he did a great job and I thought the receivers did an outstanding job by making some outstanding catches.”

The completions were more a result of single coverage than a spectacular throw on Ash's part (save for splitting the corner and the safety on the deep throw to Mike Davis; he deserves credit for that). He made proper reads and he utilized his progressions. Even on simple one- or two-read play-actions he executed the fake and the throw perfectly, notably on his touchdowns to D.J. Grant and Ryan Roberson. He never threw into tight windows, his didn't take unnecessary risks, and he took all of the space the defense gave him.

Most of the focus is on Ash's seven touchdowns but the important number is zero, as in zero interceptions. Ash currently has 96 consecutive attempts without a pick.

His job is to hand off to his great running backs, protect the football and if – IF – defenders give him room, make them pay. Or if the Texas defense gives up 31 points. He might have to open it up then, but we've seen that he can. If the Texas D, as promised, stifles future opponents it could stifle Ash's numerical production as Brown, Bergeron, Jonathan Gray, Jeremy Hills, Daje Johnson and D.J. Monroe take over.

Ash could someday become a legendary Texas quarterback who throws for 3800 yards and 35 touchdowns. Perhaps as a junior or senior we'll see an evolution in his role, a change in the offense to accommodate his growing skill set, should that happen. There is plenty to be excited about for the future.

But for now he's just a guy doing his job, which is exactly what Texas needs.

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