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Monday, March 4, 2013
Ash should embrace, convert pressure

By Sean Adams

AUSTIN, Texas -- As much as we don't want to talk about it, the pressure is on David Ash as the quarterback at Texas.

We have tried to kid ourselves about the pressure. The media has indicated that Texas’ issues are more about the coaching staff than they are about a certain quarterback. The fans remark about the recruiting and the talent around the quarterback. Even Mack Brown said, “We don’t want everything to have to come down to one guy.”

David Ash, Mack Brown
Mack Brown can continue to deflect pressure away from his quarterback with words of support and encouragement.
It was explained to me a long time ago that being nervous is OK, because that just means that you care about what you are doing. Pressure comes when you are not prepared to perform the task in front of you.

It is time for everyone to recognize the obvious. The pressure that comes with playing quarterback at the University of Texas is the price of doing business.

As I watched Saturday afternoon's practice in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, I could not get away from the fact that, while Ash does not have to be great in 2013, he does have to be good. He does not have to put up 4,000 yards passing and 35 touchdowns, because Texas does not need him to do that. But he does have to be good against Oklahoma, TCU -- two of his worst games in 2012 -- and Oklahoma State.

The fact of the matter is that the guys around him will be better than they were in 2011 and 2012.

The offensive line will be better, and that is really an easy statement to write. Josh Cochran will be able to gain weight and strength, while managing his broken leg, and should be good to go in the fall. Desmond Harrison and the incoming freshmen are a high-end class of linemen, and with Stacey Searels and the second-year guys on campus, the line will be a sight to see.

Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis are two of the better wide receivers in the Big 12 conference. Cayleb Jones, Bryant Jackson and Kendall Sanders all made plays on Saturday, so the future could be bright there.

Texas has two of the best running backs in the country in Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray. That statement is almost disrespectful to Joe Bergeron, who led the team in touchdowns in 2012. Gray looked great, and Brown looked better and leaner Saturday than he did most of last season.

Finally, Ash will work in a pace and an offense which he has proved to be comfortable, and he should thrive.

In this day and age it seems frowned upon to acknowledge pressure, let alone apply pressure through expectations, but I doubt Ash is going to be able to run from this. In fact, I doubt Ash wants to run from it at all.

The only way to handle the pressure is to acknowledge it and recognize the special job he has. While the game might not be as big, he should welcome the advice from former Texas quarterback Vince Young, who has been working with this crop of QBs since he returned to campus.

In the 2006 BCS postgame after the title win over USC, Young was asked what he was thinking about in the pregame, when he was down on one knee in the end zone. He replied, “I was thinking about the man upstairs and the fact that he could have chosen anybody to lead this team tonight but he chose me.”

While Brown and Major Applewhite are not upstairs, they have chosen Ash to lead this group into maybe the most pivotal year of the Mack Brown era at the University of Texas.

Ash ought to take that faith, couple it with his faith in himself and embrace the pressure of being the quarterback at the University of Texas.

Yes, there is pressure -- it is not in short supply, either. Everyone else sees it. Everyone else recognizes it. We all probably help with the application of it. All of the recognizing in the world won’t make that pressure go away.

There will be pressure, and pressure either makes diamonds or burst pipes. Texas fans should hope Ash prepares himself, accepts the pressure and turns it to productivity, and then shines for all to see.