The Texas Longhorns have had an up-and-down season. After starting the year with high expectations, they went 8-4 and were maddeningly inconsistent. They will look to end their season on a high note after losing their last two games, when they take on Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl.
The Longhorns are expected to start David Ash at quarterback. Ash was benched in favor of Case McCoy for the game against Kansas State and was pulled from multiple contests. Still, it's by far the right choice for Texas.
Despite his struggles, Ash has had some really good moments. He's thrown for 2,458 yards and 17 touchdowns and has a completion percentage of 68 percent.
Ash has shown marked improvement from his freshman year and went 8-3 as a starter this year. He was also named the Holiday Bowl MVP last season. No, he's not perfect. He threw seven interceptions in the red zone, but Case McCoy is not much better. In fact, he's had eight turnovers in his last two starts.
No, David Ash is not the second-coming of Vince Young or Colt McCoy or even Major Applewhite, but to suggest that he's the wrong person to lead the team is misguided. Yes, he's had some costly interceptions, but Texas's struggles are not all on him. The team has the 73rd-ranked defense in the country, giving up nearly 30 points a game.
Still, Texas fans and even coach Mack Brown are not happy with his performance. As Brown said:
"David is 8-3, and at Texas we want to be 13-0 and I think that answers it the best," said Brown when asked what Ash had to do to keep the job. "We need to have that position to get its swagger back and step up.
Last I checked, 8-3 and ranked 23rd in the nation is not so terrible. Yes, Texas wants to be a championship contender, but that's hard to do when you're giving up 30 points per game. The two teams in the National Championship Game, Alabama and Notre Dame, give up 10.7 and 10.3 points per game, respectively. So let's not put this all on Ash.
Instead, Texas fans should be happy that they have a quarterback who had the sixth-best passing efficiency for second-year players, better than even Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. He's improved so much since his freshman year. Consider this: In 174 pass attempts in his debut season, Ash threw eight interceptions. This season, in 285 attempts, he's thrown only seven. He's throwing with more accuracy and for more yardage than his freshman season.
So while Ash has made some pretty terrible mistakes—especially against Kansas and TCU—the whole season should be considered a success. He's a better player than McCoy and is by far the right choice.
In fact, it's not a stretch to say that Ash will lead the Longhorns to an upset win over 13th-ranked Oregon State and put a nice cap on what has been a roller-coaster ride of a season in Austin.