Once again, and for the second time in 2012, the Texas Longhorns have a quarterback controversy after junior Case McCoy replaced David Ash on Saturday and led his team to a 21-17 victory over Kansas. And the change should be permanent.
Yes, Ash has been named the starter for Saturday's game against Texas Tech, but you do not need to read in between the lines to know that he is on thin ice. For the second time in three games, Ash was dreadful, going 8-of-16 for a measly 63 yards and two interceptions against the bottom-dwelling Jayhawks.
Then McCoy was inserted into the game in the fourth quarter and led two consecutive scoring drives, going 6-of-8 and throwing the game-winning touchdown to D.J. Grant.
It is very easy to overreact to a situation like this, but it is becoming increasingly apparent that the current formula that the Longhorns are using is not working. The 'Horns are a missed call, a Josh Turner interception, and a 4th-and-6 conversion away from being 3-5 instead of 6-2.
Wins are wins, but something needs to change heading into a final four games against two ranked teams and two other teams that are all much better on defense than Baylor and Kansas.
And with the state of the Texas defense, the Longhorns are in a position where they simply must score points to stay in games. This is why McCoy was inserted into the game against Kansas and why he should be the starter if Texas is going to pull off an upset in the final games of the season.
If you have watched McCoy and Ash play this season, one thing that stands out is McCoy's accuracy as a downfield thrower compared to the sophomore Ash. The downfield accuracy will be much needed in Texas' upcoming games.
This Saturday Texas goes to Lubbock to play a Texas Tech team that averages 40.5 points per game, good for 12th in the nation. Then two weeks later on Thanksgiving, Texas plays a TCU team that has averaged 44.5 points over its last four games. And then Texas closes the season against No. 2 Kansas State, a team that is fifth in the nation in scoring at 44.4 points per game.
Basically, Texas needs to score a lot of points if it wants to have a chance against these teams. And given that the offense has struggled to run against the tougher defensive fronts of the Big 12, the 'Horns are probably going to have to do it by throwing the ball downfield more effectively. McCoy is better suited to do this than is Ash.
So far this season Ash has averaged 8.1 yards per attempt while McCoy has averaged 11.5 yards per attempt, which equates to over 85 yards extra yards of offense per game if McCoy throws the ball as often as Ash has this season.
As for the eyeball test, there have been numerous occasions where Ash has had plenty of time to throw to an open receiver and that receiver has had to either slow down or break stride to catch the ball. On Saturday's game-winning drive, McCoy hit Mike Davis for 39 yards perfectly while he was being taken to the ground.
Sure, the sample size is 190 throws smaller for McCoy, but there is no denying how scattered Ash's passes were against Kansas and they have been that way for much of the season. And since the Longhorn offense has yet to feature Ash's mobility, why not put in the player that has proven he can complete the long ball?
David Ash won the starting quarterback job because he was best suited to lead a team with a great running game and an even better defense. Neither of those qualities have proven enduring for this 2012 squad, which is why it is McCoy's turn.
Ash was perfectly suited for a team with three great running backs and a defense with all-time great potential. He is a versatile athlete, does not take too many risks and has considerable upside thanks to his size. But without the running game and defense to carry most of the weight, Ash's weaknesses begin to get exposed.
Take for example the Oklahoma debacle. The Sooners dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and jumped out to an early lead, making Texas much more predictable on offense. This allowed the Sooners to pressure Ash into two interceptions before he was knocked out with a gruesome wrist injury.
McCoy on the other hand is a gunslinger. For better or worse he is going to throw the ball down the field and try to make things happen, which is why he had three touchdowns in mop-up duty against New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Going up against four teams that play much better defense than Baylor and Kansas, Texas needs someone at quarterback that is going to take his shots and keep the defense from packing it in against the run. Right now, McCoy is that someone.
Currently, the Longhorns are a team in turmoil on the defensive side of the ball and one that really struggled offensively against the one good defense they have played all season. For this team to sneak by with a win in these last four weeks, something needs to change, and it may as well be the quarterback.
The more we see this Texas team on the field, the more it becomes obvious that right now it is a 7-5 team at best. The defense has given up over 200 rushing yards all but twice, is 100th in the nation in scoring defense, and that has missed 91 tackles which is third-worst in the nation according to HornsNation's Carter Strickland. The offense has been better than the defense but was not good enough to outscore West Virginia, got throttled by Oklahoma and will have problems against the upcoming opponents.
Now the defense has already made as many changes as it probably can without using the rest of the season to give the freshman some burn. And unless the offense has some secret weapon on the offensive line, the only position worth even considering a change is at quarterback, which could really pan out.
Say what you will about McCoy, but there is no denying that he has that certain "it" factor when it comes to winning games that he should not. Exhibit A is last year's win at Texas A&M, a game Texas had no business winning with the way it played on offense.
The Longhorns are likely going to need some magic to pull off upsets at Texas Tech and Kansas State, and McCoy is the type of player that can pull that off. This is not to say that putting in McCoy will give Texas the win in these games, but if the Oklahoma game was any indication of what will take place, he gives this team a better shot than does Ash.
Despite his struggles against the Big 12's worst team, David Ash will make his 10th consecutive start against the Red Raiders this weekend. What happens from there is a total unknown.
There is still a chance Ash could have a major bounce-back performance against Texas Tech this weekend. He was heavily criticized earlier this season for not getting the ball downfield against Wyoming and New Mexico then responded with 326 yards and four touchdowns against Ole Miss.
However, Texas Tech's defense, especially its defensive front, is much better than that of Ole Miss. And there is no doubting that that group saw what Oklahoma's front did to Ash and is licking its chops.
Should Ash put on a similar performance in Lubbock that he did against the Sooners or Jayhawks, expect the Texas coaches to pull the trigger on McCoy. They all know that they are within centimeters of the band saw after the near miss in Lawrence last weekend and that they can ill afford another blowout this season.
After all, it is always easier the second time around.