This 2013 season is the biggest of David Ash's career as quarterback of the Texas Longhorns.
With the standard set at winning the Big 12, will he more closely resemble flop Garrett Gilbert or hero Colt McCoy?
From a physical standpoint, Ash is certainly closer to a Gilbert look-alike. With each at around 6'3" and 220 pounds the two are nearly identical in size. Each also possesses a big right arm with which they love to stretch the field.
Unfortunately, Ash has also had some games where it may as well have been Gilbert under center. He had three outings last season in which he completed less than half of his passes for fewer than 125 yards, throwing two interceptions in each with zero touchdowns.
There is no question Ash, like Gilbert before him, is talented. Consistently displaying that talent has been another issue altogether. Mental toughness has been the root of that discussion for both players, because each has shown flashes of brilliance.
However, Ash's flashes have been far more frequent than Gilbert's ever were. In his first full season as a starter, Ash led three game-winning drives and posted a passer rating of over 200 three times.
As for Gilbert, he threw 17 interceptions without a game-winning drive and only posted one game with a 200 rating in going 5-7.
Ash may look like Gilbert, but he has generated far more success than the disappointing local product ever did. The fact remains that bumps in the road are the rule more than the exception for college quarterbacks. Just ask Colt McCoy, who was prone to the same puzzling inconsistencies before he became the nation's most accurate passer.
Before he was an All-American or Heisman candidate, McCoy also had some questioning whether he was the guy. As a sophomore, he threw four interceptions in a 20-point loss to unranked Kansas State, lost to Oklahoma then botched his second-straight start against A&M, throwing 18 picks on the year.
In his junior year McCoy responded by setting school records for yardage and touchdowns in a season while leading the team with 561 rushing yards and completing almost 77 percent of his passes. All in a system nearly identical to the one which Ash will run in 2013.
As a junior, Ash returns with nine other offensive starters, including his top three rushers and top two receivers from last season. And while he may have Gilbert's size and arm, he also has McCoy's athleticism in a hurry-up offense that will allow him to use it.
Given that, the weapons surrounding him and his overall talent, it is far more likely that Ash pulls a Colt McCoy than a Garrett Gilbert in 2013. Except for in Ash's case, he will not have to put up an historic season to quarterback Texas back to a Big 12 title.
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