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
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
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
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.
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.