Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Texas Longhorns [Print without images]

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Four downs: Is Ash getting a fresh start?

By Sean Adams

Each week Sean Adams takes a look at some topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Go long ...

David Ash
David Ash will start for the Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl. Who will start in 2013?
Major Applewhite did it as the starting quarterback at Texas throwing deep to Wane McGarity, Kwame Cavil, Roy Williams, BJ Johnson and others. He knew it was the best way to stretch and stress the defense and to put points on the scoreboard.

Now as the new offensive coordinator and play-caller, Applewhite will take his love of going long to the Texas offense.

From the minute Bryan Harsin left to take the head coaching job at Arkansas State, even coach Mack Brown lamented that Texas would probably get the ball down the field more moving forward with Applewhite. It is just part of his nature.

Texas came into the 2012 season with several questions about the receiving group, but Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley have been very good. Marquise Goodwin could benefit most from a renewed desire to get the ball down the field. The young receivers will be engaged in this exciting change to the Texas offense.

Second down: Is Ash getting a fresh start?

I wrote weeks ago that David Ash was still the best option even into 2013 for the Texas Longhorns. With Applewhite now being the quarterback coach, he will get the chance to mentor and work with Ash.

Applewhite will have no choice but to grade Ash’s performances based on how he performs in comparison to how he has worked with him. His history with Harsin will not compare to what what he has done with him.

Whether people want to admit it or not, Ash is getting a fresh start. The order of importance for the Longhorns should be defense, running game, special teams and then passing game.

Does Ash have to be great in that scenario? No, he does not. Ash’s job almost seems simple in nature. He just has to do his job and do what he is taught. If he can trust his preparation and commit to doing everything to the best of his ability, he will be successful.

He does not have to do what Michael Vick did at Virginia Tech in 1999. He does not have to do what Johnny Manziel has done for Texas A&M in 2012. He does not have to do what Colt McCoy did at Texas in 2009. David Ash can be what Ken Dorsey was at Miami (Fla.) in 2001. Dorsey got the ball to his best players and let them put in the work to put the points on the scoreboard.

Ash doesn’t have to go out and put Texas on his back and win every game. He just can’t be the reason that Texas loses.

Third down: Defensive expectations in the Alamo Bowl

Simplified defense will be the order of the day when the Longhorns take on Oregon State on Saturday. Texas played better over the last part of the season when it played a simple yet consistent brand of defense.

Expect a lot of guys to get looks at the cornerback position with Quandre Diggs taking serious reps at safety.

Texas will strive to control more at the line of scrimmage. The defensive line was supposed to be the known commodity on the defense in 2012 and they have been everything but dominating and consistent. The Texas coaching staff is putting pressure on the defensive line and particularly the middle of the defensive line to play in a more impactful way.

Fourth down: Offensive expectations in the Alamo Bowl

The Texas offense will stretch the field and will get the ball out of the quarterbacks hand quicker under Applewhite.

It will take some risk and open up the offense. It will profile its speed and profile it earlier in the game.

While the Longhorns will open up the offense, expect to see one that is less complicated before the snap. Harsin liked to motion on just about every play. Applewhite will strip much of that to make it simple for the players during preparation.