The Texas quarterback situation is once again an area of concern for the Longhorns. Days after head coach Charlie Strong commended quarterback David Ash's progress throughout spring practice, Texas announced Ash suffered a Jones fracture in his left foot and will miss the rest of spring.
"You would have never known that he had the injury by just how well he has been practicing and the way he has been carrying himself," Strong said. "I wouldn't say that he is the clear No. 1, but he has established himself. He did a great job learning the offense and terminology and wanting to lead the team."
One could argue this injury could not have happened to a worse position for the Longhorns. With Ash sidelined, Texas has only one healthy scholarship quarterback on campus in Tyrone Swoopes.
Swoopes saw action in six games during his true freshman season at Texas; the majority of those appearances were in garbage time. It's difficult to really know what Swoopes has to offer because of his limited playing time in 2013, but Strong is telling him to step up and take control of the team.
"I told Tyrone: 'The key for you is all about confidence. It is all about doing everything we ask you to do and playing within yourself,' " Strong said. "I said, 'Now that you are the quarterback, just take the field and know this is your team and it is up to you to go lead it.' "
Asking a player who is very green at the college level to lead the team is not something that can happen overnight. But Strong understands that and is waiting for Swoopes to establish himself, like Ash had done before his injury.
"We need everyone to perform and when you do lose a quarterback, whomever you lose, someone else will have to step up," Strong said. "Now it is Swoopes' job to step up."
Being without a solid quarterback is something the Longhorns are familiar with but is not necessarily something Strong has dealt with in recent years, considering he had an extremely talented quarterback and leader in Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville. Rather than putting all of the weight on Swoopes' shoulders, he is looking for the entire offense to step up its game during the final week of spring football.
"We have an offensive line that is doing a really good job blocking and protecting the quarterback," Strong said. "We have big backs with Malcolm Brown being one of them, and the receivers are making plays, but he (Swoopes) just needs everyone, and that is what you are looking for in a team."
Quarterback coach Shawn Watson is obviously not opposed to starting a true freshman since he did it with Bridgewater in 2011, but Bridgewater was an early enrollee and was able to learn the system during spring practice. Heard not being an early enrollee could impact his chances of being the starting quarterback for the 2014 season.
"He's going to have a chance because he is going to be out there," Strong said of Heard's chances to start in 2014. "But the thing is that the guys who are here now know the system, and Jerrod has to come in and learn the system when he gets here in June."
The starting role is obviously not out of reach for Heard, but Texas fans who are anticipating him being the guy may want to lower those expectations.
What fans could hope for is Swoopes doing what Strong says by stepping up as a leader and playing within himself. Until Ash returns from injury, Swoopes is the guy who will be expected to lead this team.
All quotes were obtained firsthand.
Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow her on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.