- Carter Strickland, Reporter, HornsNation
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AUSTIN, Texas -- David Ash finally panicked.
OK, so it was a Monday. And the pressure was coming from the press. But still the unflappable mop top that is Ash became, well, flappable.
It happened when Ash was asked about the home crowds at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Kenny Vaccaro had made some noise a few weeks back that Texas does not enjoy a home-field advantage like other schools because the crowd tends to sit on its hands.
"I don't think I'm going to comment on this one," the quarterback said when asked about Vaccaro's comments and the home crowd.
"How would you explain the atmosphere and the crowd here?" he was then asked.
"Uh, John. John," Ash called out looking for help from sports information director John Bianco who was busy elsewhere.
"You can be honest," one reporter said.
"Mr. Bianco," Ash called out. Still no answer.
"Was it louder at Boone Pickens Stadium that it was here from your standpoint?" another reporter asked.
"Hey, do you hear this question?" Ash said turning to a Texas media relations underling who did nothing to help. "I don't know how to answer it."
Finally, Ash didn't have an answer. Because for every other question that has come up -- at least for all the important ones on the field -- the sophomore quarterback has had every right answer. The much-maligned and overly dissected Ash has gone from what even Texas labeled as a game-manager to a playmaker. So much so that his team is ninth in the country in scoring offense (47.25 points) and he is second in pass efficiency behind the quarterback coming in this week, Geno Smith.
"I just do my job," said the unassuming Ash. "I do what the coaches tell me to do and what the team needs me to do to be successful.
"Sometimes it is managing a game and there will always be a situation every season in a lot of game during the season where you do your job most of the game and sometimes it comes down to you go to make a play," he added. "Sometimes it is on you."
It was on Ash with less than three minutes left against Oklahoma State. He responded by never changing who he was or the way he acts in the game.
"He is so much more confident right now," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "The good thing about David is Vince [Young] was very emotional, Colt [McCoy] was very emotional and David is not. It is a different deal with him. The guy is the same every day, every play."
That consistency and ability to hold his emotions as well as execute has turned Ash into an unexpected leader and Texas into an unexpected threat to hang with the high-strung offenses of the Big 12.
"Right now they all really believe in David," Brown said. "When you get a two-minute drive on the road where it is really loud and overcome a fourth-and-6, now that's the best medicine you can have for a quarterback to send. To your team that says, 'I'm it. I'm taking over. You do your job and we've got a chance to win.'"
What it also said to the coaches is that Ash can handle not just pressure situations but more responsibility in those pressure situations.
"We were going in and out of some no-huddle and some different personnels and a little bit of a mixture of something that we kind of concocted … we were going to use a couple of different groups in there before we got to our true two minute and David operated it flawlessly," said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. "He didn’t let any of that kind of in and out affect him."
That's the thing with Ash. He has never let anything affect him through the past two years whether he was throwing four touchdown passes and eight picks in 2011 or 10 touchdowns and one pick in the first four games of 2012.
"My dad always told me when something good happens you need to act like it has happened to you before and when something bad happens you shouldn't get too down about it," Ash said.
That is most likely the basis for Ash coming right back after he threw an interception to lead Texas on a 75-yard scoring drive against Oklahoma State.
"He and the offense have just shown the poise and confidence you want to see," Harsin said.
Now if Ash could just show the emotion that typically goes along with the plays he has been making.
"I get excited," he said. "Maybe I don't show it, but I get excited."
Well, at the very least he will have the opportunity to excite a few fans at DKR Saturday night. And those fans might, in turn, make enough noise to put the one question Ash can't answer to rest.