AUSTIN, Texas -- David Ash never entered or entertained the great Texas quarterback debate.
“I have always expected I would be the guy,” the sophomore quarterback said.
Still looking for confidence? There is it right there. And the quality that eluded Ash at times last year has been on constant display during fall camp.
“He is a lot more confident,” said offensive lineman Trey Hopkins. “He really commands the huddle. “He has a lot better leadership skills. He is doing great in that aspect of knowing, 'Hey, this is my huddle. This is what we’re doing. And I'm running the show.'
“That kind of confidence trickles down through the rest of the huddle,” Hopkins added. “Everyone knows that he is confident in his play and we're confident in his play and we're confident in him.”
OK, so the affirmations are flying at Texas. Stuart Smalley is rejoicing somewhere. Meanwhile Texas, while maybe not exactly jubilant, at least has less guarded optimism when it comes to its quarterback.
“He’s much more of a competent and aggressive young man than you would think,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown. "He is not shy. He is not bashful. He is aggressive. He is not the shy, quiet freshman that people think."
For one, that’s because he is a sophomore now. For two, that’s because Ash has matured. And the offense is maturing right along with him.
"It all goes from the top down and David is the top," said lineman Mason Walters. "We look to him in the huddle. It's his ball team and he is managing it."
How Texas will manage Ash and Case McCoy is still a question the coaches have yet to answer. Both Brown and co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin are inching away from the declaration that two quarterbacks will play. Although in the opening game it might be a given, considering the opponent.
"The situation is going to dictate whether we can or not," Harsin said. "We got in the bowl game and it didn’t. The game is tight and David was playing well and we were doing enough on offense to keep ourselves in it."
Brown read from the same script when he met with the media two hours earlier.
There is no set length on the leash that will be on Ash. No set number of mistakes that if made or exceeded would force the coaches in pulling him and putting in McCoy.
"It’s a feel thing," Harsin said.
Right now the feeling is Ash can handle everything thrown his way. Texas placed him in every difficult situation it could during fall camp to see how he would react. He passed all those tests.
Ash said it was through those exercises he learned to take emotion out of his decisions. He became a game-manager who was willing to check down instead of go over the top. He has also learned that this team needs to believe in him as much as he believes in himself.
"For me it is just doing my job day in and day out," he said. "Coming out with a competitive attitude and ready to practice hard and showing my team the ways a championship team prepares every day.
"Sometimes you have to talk," Ash added. "And I do when the situation calls for it. But mostly it is just bringing a presence into the huddle, acting like you know what you're doing and inspiring confidence in your teammates."