What David Ash's broken foot means for Texas

Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE

How do the Horns deal with the injury to the prospective starter.

The Friday announcement that Texas Longhorns junior quarterback David Ash will miss the remainder of the spring after undergoing surgery for a Jones fracture in his left foot was just more poor injury news after Ash missed most of last season due to the concussion that he suffered in the second game against BYU.

Where do the Longhorns go from here? What are the short-term and long-term implications of the injury?

What it means for David Ash

The Jones fracture is the third significant injury for Ash in the last 18 months.

The rib injury he sustained against Iowa State severely limited him in his poor Thanksgiving showing against TCU in 2012, with former head coach Mack Brown later admitting that Ash shouldn't have played.

As a result of that injury, he missed the game against Kansas State.

And most fans are familiar with the concussion issues that resulted from the blow against the Cougars and kept Ash out for the rest of the season with the exception of the first half against Kansas State, during which he suffered a recurrence of symptoms.

He was cleared for spring practice as those symptoms cleared up and the belief is that he is not more susceptible to a concussion because of his issues last fall, but another concussion (and subsequent slow recovery) would certainly put his future in football in serious jeopardy.

Since Ash was participating in his fourth spring practice with the Horns, the loss of reps is not going to be as significant as it would be for a younger player, but the Belton product is still trying to learn the new offense and will now miss most of the summer work that is crucial to developing a rapport between quarterback and receivers.

There's also a chance that the Jones fracture doesn't heal on the ideal timetable. Since there is little blood circulation in that part of the foot, there's a 25% chance that Ash doesn't recover in the typical eight to 11 weeks, with some patients requiring as much as 20 weeks to fully heal.

If that happens, the condition can become chronic.

Along with the concussion issues, the latest injury to Ash just adds another potential pitfall for him to overcome in order to stay healthy this fall.

Is it time to call Ash injury-prone? Perhaps not, but it also seems at this time that having Ash fully healthy for the entire season is not overly likely.

What it means for Tyrone Swoopes

The pressure is on the true sophomore now to perform well with the first team as the only real option currently on campus. And there will be significant pressure on him to turn in a solid performance in the Orange-White game next weekend, as well.

Developmentally, the increased repetitions with the best players on the team should be a major boon to Swoopes if he can take advantage.

When assessing his potential for growth during this time, it's important to look back through his personal history.

There have been times when Swoopes performed poorly enough at critical events during his high school career that it wasn't always easy to believe that he could play quarterback at a high level in college. But when the pressure was high, as in the final moments of the Elite 11 camp that he attended when he was put through the pressure cooker, which simulates a two-minute drill, Swoopes would always come through with just enough to continue believing.

The same was true at The Opening, where the athletic, raw prosper would look poor on several throws, only to come back and deliver a beauty in a critical situation.

When the stakes are the highest, when people are about ready to give up on him, Swoopes is at this best.

Will that be the case again for the rest of the spring?

What it means for Max Wittek

As has been the case for some time now, there hasn't been much emerging from the camp of the former USC Trojans quarterback as it pertains to his upcoming decision -- no surprise given that he still has to graduate from USC in order to enroll at the school of his choice for the summer.

His former high school coach told a CBS reporter that Wittek is still leaning toward Texas, the same basic belief that has been prevalent in just about every report since early February. The recent visit to Austin, Wittek's second since announcing his intentions to transfer, only further confirms those beliefs.

With Ash now having suffered another injury that could imperil his season, there's more incentive for Wittek to come to Texas, as he is increasingly likely to earn the starting job next fall. Having Ash entrenched in that position has widely been viewed as the major impediment to Wittek choosing the Horns, as he there are other schools with easier depth charts to navigate.

Now more than ever, the odds are extremely high that Wittek picks Texas and that could be critical for the 2014 team's upside. The former Rivals four-star prospect never capitalized on his potential on USC, but if Ash can't go next fall and Swoopes doesn't make a big leap this spring, he'll provide the Horns with their best shot of winning games in 2014.

*****

The Longhorns have struggled mightily at the quarterback position since Colt McCoy graduated in 2009 after a stellar run of play at the position. Other than flashes from Ash, little has gone right, a trend that continued with Ash's latest injury.

Some favorable luck will be necessary here to have any confidence in the position heading in to the 2014 season and absent that, the upside for a team that could struggle to win eight or nine games even with a healthy Ash would be significantly diminished and a season struggling to reach bowl eligibility a definite possibility.

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