The road back to national prominence following the 2005 national title and a few big years sprinkled in afterwards has proven far slower and far longer than any Horns fan could have predicted.
However, following a seven-win season in 2010, eight wins in 2011 and finally nine a year ago, it looks like coach Mack Brown and Texas are ready to step up and compete with the the big boys once again.
A lot of the pressure to win generally falls on the quarterback’s shoulders. That being said, Longhorns offensive coordinator and former UT signal-caller himself, Major Applewhite, doesn’t see the need for current passer David Ash to feel any of it.
That is because Applewhite does not necessarily see Ash as a leader of the team as Ash enters his junior season and first as the Horns’ unquestioned starter.
“Major Applewhite isn’t looking to David Ash to be a leader so much as a productive, efficient quarterback,” writes Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman. “The Longhorns’ offensive coordinator told our Randy Riggs, ‘Ultimately it comes through success. It’s hard to believe in someone who hasn’t had success. But David has had success. I think the guys started to believe in him last year. And I don’t think guys are foolish enough to know that the four games we lost last year were because of his play. I think that word (leadership) is thrown a lot around David, and I think it’s a lot of wasted conversation. Our team’s not looking at him like, ‘Take us, lead us, go.’ I think they want David to play well and be consistent. I see him being more comfortable on the field, not as uptight and not as antsy in the huddle.’”
Comfort on the field and not as antsy in the huddle are generally kinks a coach is hoping a quarterback has worked out by the time they are rounding out their first year under center — not going into their junior year.
At some point this season, and especially in the high-octane, defense optional Big 12, Ash is going to have to step up and carry the Longhorns to a victory or two. Relying simply on a defense that is losing senior stars in defensive end Alex Okafor and safety Kenny Vaccaro will not cut it for 13 or 14 straight weeks.
When that time comes, will Applewhite have the confidence in his passer to call Ash’s number?
More importantly, will Ash have the confidence in himself?