Worth a bump. Are you Team Ash or Team McCoy? It seems like a choice may have to happen sooner rather than later. --GoBR--
We go into Saturday at the State Fair in a much better position than we felt we would pre-season. Several of the questions that appeared to be the Achilles' Heel of this young Texas squad have promising answers emerging. A young secondary has proven able to keep plays in front of them and able to make tackles in space, both in the run game and passing game. Tackling in the secondary will be at a premium against Jones, Broyles, and Company. Jones' inability to hurt this Texas D with his legs will help Manny Diaz use his DEs in a role other than containment. I feel good about our defenses ability to keep this OU defense and give our offense a chance to come out of Dallas a 5-0 team.
And to the offense: Warning! Contents may exceed expectations. Malcolm Brown has stepped up as the load back Texas hasn't had to lean on in years. Jaxon Shipley is every bit the receiver we'd expect of a #8 (note: on the flea flicker TD from Ash against ISU, Shipley raises an arm, almost like a basketball pump fake, to get the defender unnecessarily in the air. How heady a play is that for a true freshman?). And the offensive line has shown the ability to buy enough time in pass protection and open holes in the run game given proper leveraging and play-calling. Hopefully, some straight line run blocking will develop soon. The QB position has been the most volatile of situations this year, and we have just as many questions (if not more) at this point than we did heading into the season. I'm here to convince you the answer, given the opportunity, is David Ash. My points follow the jump.As a player...
We knew David Ash was a physical specimen. Good size (especially given his age), strong runner, great release and a strong arm. What has surprised me is his pocket presence and his ability to make the variety of throws the HarsinWhite offense requires. A replay of the ISU game gave a glimpse of Ash's capabilities. An early, 19 yard completion to DJ Grant showed touch on a ball just above the linebackers and underneath the secondary defender. Two other throws (one dropped by Grant over the middle, and another dangerous throw to Shipley between three defenders) showed the same touch and trust to make the throw. The deep ball to Mike Davis was an accurate ball, caught in stride, following a well-sold play-action fake that Ash stepped into despite getting hit right before release. The TD to Shipley on "The Matrix" flea-flicker also displayed the ability to step into a throw before taking a hit.
Ash gives the offense the ability to attack every part of the field and keep defenses honest. A 4th quarter 1st down completion to Shipley on a 10 yard out showed adequate zip to attack outside the hash marks. Another deep ball down the sideline to Mike Davis was well-placed (we'll need Davis to attack the ball and high-point it, much like Shipley did for McCoy late in the game). His ability to run and scramble will force the defense to account for that threat. That run threat should help against an OU defense that has given up 100+ yards to Mizzou's James Franklin and 49 yards to FSU's EJ Manuel in less than a complete game. Simply put, David Ash has displayed the physical tools we'd like out of the QB position.
...with a schematic advantage.
David Ash's ability allows the offense even greater diversity in scheme. The early season Ash package featured a variety of runs paired with DJ Monroe meant to attack the perimeter, then added Malcolm Brown to that package to add an interior run element. We also leave Ash on the field for our Wildcat looks with Shipley and Fozzy. When the play action look was added against UCLA, defenses bit hard on these run looks leaving Ash simple first down completions (two to Shipley down the seam on 3rd downs). The play action looks continued to pay dividends against ISU, where run threats gave us single coverage on both TD passes to Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley.
The latest addition to Ash's set of formations is the latest buzz in collegiate offenses: the diamond formation. Our diamond formation featured Ash in the shotgun, DJ Monroe to his right, Fozzy Whittaker behind him, and (I think) Malcolm Brown to his left. By my count, our three diamond formation plays yielded: an 8 yard sweep for Monroe (impressed by his eagerness cutting that play up-field) with a triple option look; a 9 yard zone read look to Monroe with Ash running ahead as an additional blocker; and a 20 yard completion to Shipley where Ash showed patience in the pocket, bought time rolling out to his right, and found Shipley on the sideline. The diamond formation is just another tool at HarsinWhite's disposal.
Beat the hell out of OU!
David Ash has been by no means perfect. A silly grounding penalty on first down when he had the choice to throw the ball out of bounds lost 13 yards and killed an early second half drive. He missed an open Shipley down the seam on a routine 3rd down throw. But both are fixable errors we'd expect of a true freshman. With our the talent and skill level of our competition dramatically increasing this week, I feel David Ash represents our best chance to move the ball and put points on the board. I think an upset win in Dallas would feature several plays David Ash can make that Case McCoy is physically unable to make.
So, what do you think? Are you on the David Ash bandwagon? Do you think Case McCoy is the answer now and moving forward? Or do you think we continue the two QB system indefinitely, riding the hot hand?