Texas' future at quarterback could very well come down to tonight's Holiday Bowl.
"Right now they understand we're going to need both of them to win, so there hasn't been any conflict at practice and they aren't worrying about who's starting," coach Mack Brown said.
But Brown understands it takes time for young quarterbacks to develop, citing Vince Young's poor freshman year, Colt McCoy struggling a bit his second year and the fact that even Boise State's Kellen Moore, college football's all-time winningest quarterback, wasn't even a discussion topic his freshman year.
"Talking to [offensive coordinator] Bryan [Harsin], he said Boise was looking at [Moore] at safety and said, ‘We'll just take him and play him somewhere,'" Brown said. "It took him awhile. No one was talking about him four years ago.
"There was lots of griping with Vince his first year and halfway in his second year. Colt struggled some his second year. He had that great freshman year, but there were so many great players around him. So I think we're headed in the right place."
Brown believes his 2012 recruiting class is better than last year's and will provide the team with the depth they don't have, saying that injuries to Texas' offensive weapons like Fozzy Whittaker, Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron, Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis put a significant amount of pressure on the young quarterbacks because they didn't have enough players who could fill those voids.
In a perfect world, the Texas quarterback situation would be as follows:
"We haven't had backup quarterbacks like we should. We've been lucky," Mack Brown said. "I'd like to get back to where we have three or four that could all play where we have a younger one coming on, he gets to play some in games, have a definite starter and a backup with experience that could change the tempo of a ball game, and I think we're closer to that now than people think."
As far as moving forward into the spring and fall with their long-term guy, Brown says he'd like for it to be McCoy or Ash rather than an incoming freshman.
"If you think about David, he's had very little time to develop. His was under fire," Brown said. "I even asked the kids in the summer, ‘How much did David get to work?' And they said the three older ones (Garrett Gilbert, Connor Wood and McCoy) wouldn't let him throw any. He was at 7-on-7's, but didn't get any work."
Brown went back and forth praising Ash for coming in under pressure against Kansas State and McCoy for playing mature and managing the Texas A&M game before saying that both have "shown moments we think they can play, we just need to go back and continue to help them."
Both quarterbacks have started five games apiece and McCoy's stats are significantly better. He has more yards (1,045-926), touchdowns (7-3) and a higher rating (132.3-103.79) than Ash. McCoy also has four interceptions to Ash's eight, but all four of those picks were thrown against Baylor a few weeks ago.
Last year Brown would bring up Boise State's offense being exactly what Texas wanted to be. That led to the hiring of Harsin and hoping that the offense could become balanced, something that it hasn't been for quite some time.
"We'd like to be 50-50 or 60-40 (with the emphasis on the running game) and that's what we were when we first got to Texas with Ricky Williams," Brown said. "We gotta throw the ball more consistently and better.
"Just watching the Boise game with Arizona State the other night, that's who we want to be. Kellen Moore managed the game, he got the ball to the right places, they have the ability to throw deep, they're really good in the screen game, they still run their misdirection and trick plays, but they are still a power running football team.
"I think we're going in the exact direction I wanted us to go in a year ago, we just need more depth."
Maybe after tonight Texas will know which quarterback it would like to move into the spring with as the starter. Regardless, Brown thinks that next year will be better than this one because of the incoming recruits and current players maturing and getting healthy.
So how long will it take the Longhorns to get back to national prominence and the BCS title game?
"We're not as far off as I thought we were last year," he said. "We're right in the middle of it. We just gotta get it settled at quarterback."
For more coverage, follow Laken Litman on Twitter!