AUSTIN, Texas – Nearly three years after Colt McCoy left, Texas is looking up at square one.
Oh sure, some -- those who get paid by donations, tickets sales, etc. -- will say Texas has two quarterbacks. But that statement implies either is reliable and capable. At this point, 22 games since the two-quarterback talk began -- it was following Garrett Gilbert’s yanking in the BYU game in 2011 that "McAsh" was born -- neither David Ash or Case McCoy have proven to be consistently so.
The argument, almost valid for those who turned a blind eye to Oklahoma, Kansas and TCU or as mathematicians like to put it, 27 percent of the games played, is that David Ash has proven to have the skill and arm as well as a command of the offense that best allows Texas to win.
Except for when he doesn’t.
Ash has started 17 games at Texas. He has been pulled due to lack of performance in 23.5 percent of those games. Texas has lost three of the four games in which Ash has been pulled, narrowly escaping a loss with two fourth-quarter touchdowns at 1-10 Kansas.
There could also be an argument made Ash cost Texas the West Virginia game. After West Virginia scored to take a 41-38 lead, Texas had the ball at the WVU 34-yard line with 2nd-and-8. Ash was sacked and threw two straight incompletions to turn the ball over on downs.
The defense got it right back and the offense went to work this time at the WVU 12. Texas lost 12 yards on the drive. Ash checked out of one pass play for a three-yard run. An ill-advised early shotgun snap cost Texas 16 yards. West Virginia has had one of the 10 worst defenses in FBS all season.
Ash took the blame for the debacle. So, in that instance, the sophomore did step up.
But it remains difficult to quantify how much Ash has stepped up his game. He has won seven games as a starter -- Case McCoy won the eighth in relief at Kansas -- this season. His stats have been significantly better. He has completed 68 percent of his passes as opposed to 57 percent in 2011. And he has thrown an interception once every 41 pass attempts this year as opposed to once every 22 last season.
Although, collectively, the defenses of those seven teams are rated 82nd statistically in overall in defense and 87th in pass defense. The three losses have come against defenses collectively rated 55th in overall yards allowed and 66th in passing yards.
Last season’s three wins as a starter came against defenses collectively rated 86th in overall defense and 71st in pass defense. The two losses were against defenses collectively rated 65th in overall yards allowed and 99th in passing yards allowed.
Stats are for losers, indeed.
Still, with all that information, Ash might give Texas its best chance to win. That’s because McCoy, for all his flair, has proven he cannot handle the flame.
Sure, there have been dramatics displayed by McCoy. But one was against Kansas. The other was against a team, Texas A&M, that had allowed five second-half comebacks and was at the end of a performance in which McCoy was 12-of-23 for 87 yards. (He was 4-of-4 for 23 yards with a pass interference penalty drawn and a 25-yard scramble on the game-winning drive.) McCoy had six turnovers in the subsequent game against Baylor.
Against TCU, McCoy was again put in a tight spot and as a result threw the ball into too tight a spot. The junior, who does not posses the arm to do so, tried to loft the ball long to Jaxon Shipley while on the run and over two defenders.
The ball, thrown after a scramble that crisscrossed the field, is indicative of McCoy’s style. He is brash, confident and willing to do everything in order to make the play.
It’s an admirable trait but poison when not properly administered by quarterbacks. The issue with McCoy is he has no quality control. He does not know when to just accept a bad play, as all quarterback must sometimes do. Instead he has the will to make that bad play worse.
Possibly, had McCoy been named the starter and given reps, this quality could be exorcised from him. But it would have required delicate and nuanced tampering so as not to strip the quality completely from McCoy. To believe this staff could have done that is to believe that this staff can create a reliable quarterback at Texas.
As it stands, this coaching staff, and the one before it, in nearly three years time, has been unable to create that quarterback or give the faithful faith that there is that quarterback within the program.
Instead, the Longhorns have two.