The two-touchdown performance from Texas Longhorns quarterback Case McCoy against the Oklahoma Sooners "cemented his legacy" at Texas and moved him fully out of the shadow of his older brother, Colt, Texas head coach Mack Brown said on Monday during the weekly teleconference for the Big 12 coaches.
And Brown also weighed in on the current situation at quarterback:
It is Case's team until David returns. Until we're told David is returning to practice, Case is the only one on this team that's taken a span at quarterback. He did an outstanding job Saturday... When David returns, obviously we'll have to look at that but that's not an issue.
So, big issue, little issue or non-issue?
It probably falls somewhere between little issue and non-issue because there are still so many moving parts related to Ash's potential return this season.
But to back up a second, what Brown is saying here is that fans can put to rest whatever hopes they have of seeing redshirt freshman Jalen Overstreet on the field at quarterback and that freshman Tyrone Swoopes is headed for the redshirt season that has looked likely since the Iowa State game.
The running game is operating at a high level right now and has been for three games despite defenses dedicating significant resources to stop it and McCoy is playing too well to justify taking him out of the game. And the Texas coaching staff doesn't trust Overstreet or Swoopes in situations where the game is close, one of the major takeaways from the Iowa State game when Swoopes warmed up, but never entered the contest.
As for Ash, his terrible performance against TCU last season was both impacted by his rib injury and probably by some rust after not practicing between the Iowa State game and the Thanksgiving contest. And bringing in McCoy as the savior off the bench isn't the same as creating an entire game plan that maximizes his skills and minimizes his limitations.
So if Ash can't practice this week but gets cleared next week, would he be a better option than McCoy against the Horned Frogs with limited practice time and the possibility that he could suffer recurring symptoms once again or suffer another head injury?
McCoy's interception-free streak came to an end against Oklahoma when defensive lineman Geneo Grissom picked off a screen pass and returned it for a touchdown, but the streak stood as the third-longest in school history at that time, behind only two similar streaks from play caller Major Applewhite, who has probably been invaluable in helping McCoy understand how to better manage the game and his own strengths and weaknesses.
And a key comment from McCoy after the Oklahoma game was noting how much his chemistry has improved with the Texas receivers, with the improved timing helping him hit wide receivers Marcus Johnson and Mike Davis in stride for long touchdown passes that created critical separation. McCoy credited it to the extra practice time he's been getting with the first-team offense over the last month.
Now McCoy has to work with sophomore offensive weapon Daje Johnson to continue building chemistry with him to unleash the Plugerville Hendrickson as a pass-catching threat and fully integrate all of the weapons in the wide receiver corps into the McCoy offense.
One of the other moving parts related to Ash's head injury?
He may still be eligible for a medical redshirt because he's only participated in three and a half games, under the limit of four. If doctors decide that his symptoms haven't cleared up in time to play against TCU, at what point do Ash, his family, the doctors involved, and the coaches sit down and make a decision about the rest of the season?
It won't have to be this week and it probably won't have to be next week, but that time is rapidly approaching since the Longhorns don't have another bye week to provide him extra preparation time until before the Thanksgiving tilt against Texas Tech.
The number of different factors makes it hard to discuss what the right decision would be at quarterback when Ash returns because some of it depends on whether the team can beat TCU, if McCoy can continue meshing well with Applewhite and his receivers to continue playing at the highest level of his career, and the potential risk of another head injury for Ash.
Texas may have some hard decisions to make about the quarterback situation in the next couple weeks, with most of them revolving around the Ash's health.
Until that time, McCoy is finally a viable alternative who can put Texas in position to win games, and that's a huge development.