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Friday, January 18, 2013
Decisions that defined Texas in 2012: No. 1

By Carter Strickland

Ah, decisions. Coaches make them and then everyone criticizes them. Of course, not all of them are bad. Many are celebrated. For Texas this year it was a little bit of both. This week, HornsNation takes a look at the top five critical decisions made by Texas in 2012 and the result of each of those. Today, at No. 1, is David Ash being named the starting quarterback before the season.

David Ash
QB David Ash improved in his second season as starter for Texas.
AUSTIN, Texas -- It took quite some time for Texas to make its best decision of 2012, and that delay might have been Texas' worst decision of 2012.

That’s right, like always, it is all about the quarterback. In naming David Ash the starter for the 2012 season, Texas put the ball in the hands of a player who turned into a top-25 passer. He was one of the most prolific true sophomore passers in the country and finished 58th nationally in overall offense.

By not naming Ash the starter immediately following last season's Holiday Bowl victory, the Longhorns failed to give him the vote of confidence he so sorely needed in order to lead the team throughout the summer. Instead, the players were forced to listen to multiple voices and be pulled in multiple directions.

Had Texas named Ash the starter, which was almost a forgone conclusion in everyone’s minds, save the coaching staff, Ash might have been able to better handle the adverse situations thrown his way in 2012. Also, his teammates might have had more faith in him during those trying times and better rallied around him.

Instead, when Ash started games poorly -- Oklahoma, Kansas, TCU -- he had a tendency to finish them poorly or on the bench. That trend changed in the Alamo Bowl. Maybe not so oddly, Ash was named the starter for the bowl early in practice, and he had the full confidence of the coaching staff behind him.

Despite getting a late start at being named the starter, Ash made dramatic improvements in every statistical category as did the offense. Unlike 2011, when Ash cost Texas several wins, only one loss (TCU) could truly be pinned on him.

In the other four there were several other factors, the primary of which was the defense.

The coaching staff has not made a declarative statement concerning Ash’s status as the starter in 2013. And now it has five quarterbacks from which to pick.

But for 2012, the staff did make the right choice, albeit a late one, in selecting Ash as Texas’ starter.