Texas held its 2013 Orange-White game on Saturday and while most spring games are just a glorified scrimmage with an opportunity to keep fans engaged during baseball season, a couple of things cropped up that were slightly unexpected.
The quarterback situation wasn't a big question mark going into this spring—David Ash was the starter—but the overall confidence of Ash under duress is a huge question mark.
From the National Football Post:
Ash struggled in the two-minute drill to end the first half. He tossed an interception to Jordan Hicks on a shovel pass while under pressure and followed that up with a pick to safety Adrian Colbert on a tipped ball when he tried to force a big play down the field.
But his two-minute struggles Saturday night, coupled with his propensity to toss red-zone interceptions last fall, remain a concern for a Texas team entering a possible make-or-break campaign for its head coach.
Again, this is spring practice, so there's no need to panic. And if there's any good news surrounding the somewhat unsteadiness of Ash under pressure, it's that the reserves performed very well in the spring game. More from the National Football Post:
Early enrollee freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes stole the show, as the dual-threat shined in the first half. Despite only playing one series, he displayed his athleticism against the first-team defense, rushing for 21 yards on one play after evading pressure and hitting the edge. On another play, he scrambled for seven yards when his initial read wasn't open. Ultimately, Swoopes led a scoring drive after Case McCoy was unable to in his first two chances. Brown said after the game that Swoopes has a chance to play in 2013 because he is No. 3 on the depth chart, ahead of 2012 recruit Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet.
How would you rate the overall Longhorns' spring game?
Texas' new uptempo offense also went rather smoothly and it can only get better as the team works out over the summer and into the fall. Their defense, however, is still a question mark for me.
Yes, they had two interceptions and I suppose being in the right place at the right time counts as part of a good defense but both of those interceptions were Ash's fault. And if you want some spin, here it is—Ash threw one bad ball because he was under a heavy pass rush. Score one for the defense.
I'd like to score one for the offense. I'm just not there yet.
The biggest issue going into the fall is if the Longhorns' defense can stand up to opposing offenses so as to limit the ensuing pressure on Ash when the Longhorns get the ball. It's hard to throw a perfect ball when you're down 21 points and facing a jail break blitz from a defense that knows you're forced into putting the ball up in the air.
If there isn't that constant pressure to make a big throw and play catch up, Ash should be limited in his mistakes.
This is all based on theoretical presumptions, of course.
This is also based on one spring practice game. A game where all the hopes of a team's fan base are sometimes mistakenly pinned on a glorified scrimmage.
We've learned that David Ash is the starting quarterback but we knew that already.
What we have learned, and what we will continue to learn, is that the Longhorns' season depends on the performance of the defense. How much fire is in its belly. How much of the fundamental basics—such as tackling—has been preached. And learned.
And translated from the practice field to game day field.