Dr. Saturday

Do two quarterbacks at Texas equal no quarterbacks at Texas?

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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(David Ash, Case McCoy US Presswire)

Texas coach Mack Brown seemed hesitant to name a quarterback starter prior to the Longhorns season opener against Wyoming, but he finally caved and gave sophomore David Ash the starting nod.

But don't assume Ash is the starter in the way most people perceive a starting quarterback. Ash is just starting the game against Wyoming; Case McCoy will play too.

"As we have been saying, it is obvious you have to have one walk out there first," Brown said. "But we feel like both of them have been really good leaders, and they handled summer well and they handle preseason well, so we are not hesitant to put either one of them in the game. But David will start."

And so Texas' quarterback carousel continues to spin with both players spending at least the beginning of the season looking over their shoulders, fretting about mistakes and wondering when they'll be pulled for the other one.

Nothing like showing confidence in your quarterback by being wishy-washy on whether he's your actual starter.

Texas went down this road a year ago and the results were frustrating. Brown and his staff couldn't decide between Ash and McCoy, so they play both and ended up with a subpar 8-5 record.

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(David Ash/US Presswire)

Ash was 3-3 as a starter last year, but didn't look completely comfortable for the bulk of the season. He never seemed to find that rhythm that full-time starters seem to have with their receivers. He completed just 57 percent of his passes and had four touchdowns to eight interceptions. He did, however, seem to be at ease as the season went on. He played every snap of the Holiday Bowl, completed 14-of-23 passes for 142 yards with a touchdown, and was named the offensive MVP.

That should have been enough to give him the starting role heading into 2012. But McCoy hasn't gone away. Despite having better numbers last season — he completed 61 percent of his passes and had seven touchdowns to four interceptions — all four of those picks came in the final regular-season game against Baylor and it looked like that was it for McCoy's chances as the Longhorns starter.

But not so fast.

"[After 2011] we really felt like, let's let them compete," Brown said. "Let's see who is the best one that comes out of it. I think what we found is they both pulled closer together.

"David ended up having a little more edge, that was it."

What's the old adage? Having two quarterbacks means you have no quarterback?

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(Case McCoy/US Presswire)

Credit McCoy for making this a contest. He could have faded after the Baylor game last year and after being left out of the Holiday Bowl, but he's been a fighter and worked his way back into the picture. Still, when most teams try a two-quarterback system, it's because they're two different quarterbacks — like Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Blake Bell — and Ash and McCoy seem to offer similar styles while on the field.

However, offensive coordinator Brian Harsin says there are some differences.

"There are strengths and weaknesses with both quarterbacks," Harsin told the Austin American-Statesman on Monday. "What we found out is they both operate well in different situations. David can do some more of the run game stuff. Case does a great job getting the ball out of his hands. Both guys, in their overall understanding, have improved."

Eventually, Texas will have to make a decision. Brown said in his press conference Wednesday that if a quarterback is playing scared of making a mistake then he shouldn't be playing, but that's the situation the Texas coaches have created. How can these guys have full confidence in themselves when their coaches don't?

"If something is not working at one time or the other, we can change and they know that," Brown said. "If you're scared about not having enough confidence at quarterback, you shouldn't be playing anyway."

Texas could be one of the great surprises this season, but until it settles on a quarterback — or proves that it has mastered the two-quarterback system — it's hard to jump on the Longhorns' bandwagon.

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