Three weeks into last season, David Ash was just a freshman and was splitting snaps with Case McCoy. He had only completed six passes and had yet to throw a touchdown. Now a year later, Ash is the undisputed starter and has been lauded with national recognition after his 326-yard, four-touchdown performance against Ole Miss.
“He’s been doing great all of these games we’ve had so far,” offensive guard Trey Hopkins said. “He really took charge of the huddle, took charge of the game in general. He led us out there, and as you can see, it worked for us.”
A year ago Ash had a hard time even calling plays in the huddle, let alone taking charge of the offense and directing his teammates. This season he’s significantly more confident around his teammates and isn’t afraid to tell a lineman where to go or to correct a receiver after he runs a bad route.
“Confidence. David’s confidence was so much better,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He never panicked. I really just feel like he’s got a good presence about him right now.”
His leadership skills have improved exponentially, but what’s really been augmented is his decision-making. Last year Ash completed just 57 percent of his passes and had a 1-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio — a terrible ratio considering quarterbacks during an outstanding year will have a 3-to-1 ratio or better.
Ash has almost completely turned those numbers around. Ash has completed 76 percent of his passes thus far in 2012, and even more impressively, he has yet to throw an interception.
This means Ash is making excellent judgements when moving through his reads. He’s doing it quickly, too. He looks at his first and second options and doesn’t force the ball anywhere; if they’re not open, he hits his hot read or takes off for a few yards on the ground.
“He’s made good decisions,” co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “He’s made very good decisions in our run game with some of the checks and things like that that we have to do and getting us out of bad situations.”
But the area he’s shown the most improvement in is throwing the deep ball. Last season he was very hesitant to push the football down the hash marks, but against the Rebels he let the ball fly. He observed one-on-one coverage on the outside and just launched the ball deep — there was no hesitation. It worked, too: Ash completed touchdown passes of 46 and 55 yards in the 66-31 win.
Ash hasn’t been perfect, though. He’s underthrown quite a few of those deep passes. He is still a bit conservative at times with the football, and there are times when he will stare down a wideout instead of looking off the defense.
But if the Longhorns can continue to see a 76-percent completion percentage out of Ash while making defenses think twice about totally keying in on the running game, Texas will be in good shape.
He may not put up prolific stats like he did against Ole Miss this season, but that’s OK. Ash said “stats are for losers, anyway.”
Printed on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 as: One year wiser, Ash takes command