Texas Football: Are Ash and Mack Brown Fighting for Their Jobs Against KSU?

Zach SheltonFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2012

Ash took a major step back against the Horned Frogs on Thanksgiving.
Ash took a major step back against the Horned Frogs on Thanksgiving.Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE

In their first Thanksgiving matchup against an in-state rival, the No. 18 Texas Longhorns squandered their BCS hopes by losing to the TCU Horned Frogs 20-13. As a result, the jobs of the head coach and starting quarterback are once again at stake in this disappointing 2012 season.

A win in this game and we are talking about a Texas team riding a five-game winning streak heading into a major matchup with Kansas State that could have meant a Sugar Bowl berth. Instead, we are talking about an 8-3 team that might not win again in 2012 and could have to settle for a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl berth.

The Longhorns squandered an opportunity to change everyone's mind about their program on Thanksgiving and, in turn, showed that this team is just not elite right now. A lot of that falls on the quarterback and the coach.

Sophomore quarterback David Ash was dreadful from the get-go against TCU. But really. Ash threw his sixth red-zone interception of the season on his second throw of the game after Texas seamlessly drove the ball 55 yards into TCU territory. Then he threw his seventh such interception of the season on Texas' second drive of the game.

Then to top it off, Ash fumbled on his next possession deep in Texas territory for his third turnover of the game. Those three turnovers led to 14 of TCU's 20 points.

It has been feast or famine with the sophomore quarterback all season, and this game just furthers that notion. In the eight games Ash has finished this season, he has completed 74 percent of his passes for almost 2,100 yards, 17 touchdowns and one interception. Texas is 7-1 in those games.

In the three games in which he has been replaced, Ash has completed only 47 percent of his passes for 280 yards, zero touchdowns and six interceptions. Outscored 100-55 in those games Texas has gone 1-2, with the two losses coming against Oklahoma and this past game against TCU.

The person that pays for this most is head coach Mack Brown, who has now lost his second home game of the once-promising 2012 season. He and his staff had two weeks to prepare for TCU and he made the decision to leave his struggling signal-caller in the game until the team's final two drives of the game. 

But the worst part is that following the loss to the Horned Frogs, Brown is a missed call against OSU, a Josh Turner interception against Baylor and a Case McCoy comeback against Kansas away from being 2-6 in the Big 12 this season. Could this have something to do with the fact that Texas will not have a top-five recruiting class for only the second time since 2006?

Luckily for Brown this is only the second year of the turnaround he is trying to pioneer at Texas. To put that in context, Brian Kelly's Notre Dame squad that is about to go to the BCS National Championship Game went 8-5 in 2011, his second season with the program. 

But Kelly did not get beat by 42 against USC last year either, which would be the equivalent of what happened to Texas against the Sooners earlier this season.

It is far too early to give up on either but with the talent Texas has on both sides of the ball along with the colossal failure that is this Texas defense, Brown and Ash both need a strong showing against the No. 7 Wildcats on Saturday. They do not need a win in order to keep their respective jobs as head coach and starting quarterback, but neither can afford a debacle like the aforementioned Oklahoma game.

Kansas State is a better team than Oklahoma, which it proved in beating the Sooners earlier in the season. If the 'Horns can at least give the Wildcats, who have had two weeks to prepare following their first loss of the season, a run for their money in their house, then that will be something from which to build upon heading into both the bowl game and next season.

But if it is a blowout, do not expect to see a whole lot of either Brown or Ash in the burnt orange on August 31, 2013, when the 'Horns open their season against New Mexico State.