Coaches and players shared their reactions after the win over Ole Miss.
-- Sophomore quarterback David Ash on his performance: "It was a lot of fun. I wasn't the one really doing the work. I was just directing guys, and they were making plays. I think I mastered the underthrow, and they were making plays for me."
Without hearing the tone of his voice, it's tough to tell if Ash was serious or not when he made that comment. He was likely being sarcastic, but, as has been mentioned several times around here in the last several days, the possibility remains that Ash put those balls where he wanted to.
The bottom line, in any case, is that he showed the ability to hit his receivers in stride at times and allowed his receivers the opportunities to make a play on the football on the other throws. They did, and Ash was rewarded with a huge night.
-- Senior wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, adding some layers to the discussion: "David did a wonderful job," Goodwin said. "Don't let him downplay himself. That's just something we need to work on in practice. He had a wonderful day throwing the ball, and he'll get better down the road, and we'll get better as a team. Deep throw or underthrow, it doesn't matter as long as we catch the ball and do our job, then we're good to go. I like to think David can throw farther. I trust in his arm a lot."
Goodwin's comments seem to suggest that Ash was not underthrowing the ball on purpose. There have been those who believe that Ash simply doesn't have the arm strength to get the ball down field as much as possible, but the thought here is that Ash is being cautious after overthrowing receivers numerous times late in the 2011 season.
After seeing him throw in high school, there's no doubt that Ash has all the arm strength, it's just a matter of properly calibrating, and he's getting close.
-- Head coach Mack Brown took responsibility for Ash's struggles last season ($): "Last season was more on us than him. He was limited early and he did well, then he took a lot on himself. It was probably too much."
When Ash was allowed to have some time to process things, he improved quickly, as evidenced by his turnover-free performance in the Holiday Bowl.
-- Senior defensive end Alex Okafor on the injury to junior linebacker Jordan Hicks: "It was a pivotal point. It kind of reminded me of when Demarco Cobbs got that late hit penalty against Wyoming, and we didn't handle that very well. So I wanted to make sure we responded well."
As poorly as the defense played at times in giving up so many of those big plays, the stand after the Hicks injury that kept the Ole Miss drive alive was a positive sign in terms of mental toughness. Now, about that tackling.
-- Senior safety Kenny Vaccaro on the Texas defense: "We had a lot of good plays, but I think a lot of it gets canceled out by giving up the big touchdowns. I stressed that to the team that no matter how many turnovers you get, you still can't give up big plays, because the good teams we face will put their foot on your throat."
Most of the good plays got canceled out, really. And while Ole Miss has a respectable offense with some legitimate playmakers -- Donte Moncrief will probably have a long career in the NFL -- the tackling issues, lapses in concentration, and whatever else was going on won't cut it against the tougher offensive teams on the schedule. Like Oklahoma State in two weeks.
-- Brown on the bye week focus: "This will be a great week to build on things in all three phases. I'll look at the things we like and work on those, and we'll either clean some things up or throw some things out."
Tackling will obviously be a main point of emphasis for Texas, as the Longhorns had schemed to keep Ole Miss from making big plays, but clearly failed in that regard.