Brown looked a little nervous in the post-game press conference when the following question was directed at Ash and Ash only:
Reporter: "David, when did you find out that you were starting and did you know that you were going to be playing the full game no matter what at any point?"
Ash: "Um, I can't remember. I guess it was probably the week before we came to San Diego that I started getting reps and figured it was my time to start the game.
Then Brown jumped in: "When he played good it assured he stayed in."
Brown seemed a tad nervous, like he wanted to keep his true freshman quarterback from answering the question.
Regardless, Ash was the guy Wednesday night. He didn't turn the ball over, he completed 60 percent of his passes and appears to be the quarterback heading into spring.
Brown said Tuesday that Ash's development was "under fire" as he didn't get much practice before the season started because during the summer 7-on-7's, the older quarterbacks – Garrett Gilbert, Connor Wood and Case McCoy – hogged all the reps.
But it was Ash who earned offensive MVP in this year's bowl game. He threw a touchdown pass, his fourth of the year, and caught one as well.
"I can't credit my team enough," Ash said. "For hanging in there even though the game was sometimes sloppy, and making plays and ultimately pulling out the ‘W' so that was good."
Ash had not started a game since the middle of November against Kansas State. He said that he didn't feel rusty or nervous facing Cal's fast defense though.
After the game, Ash was awarded his MVP trophy. As he accepted it, his teammates yelled, "Speech! Speech! Speech!" For a true freshman to get up on a bowl stage and address the players, coaches, families and media, that showed that he not only has the potential to lead this team, but respect from his peers.
"David has matured a lot since I first met him," Marquise Goodwin said. "He's matured mentally and physically. He's managed to handle pressure well and he's a fighter. He's been grinding it out every day, working hard. I commend him for the things he's done because he's a young guy coming in and it's hard to have the pressure on his shoulders. He did a great job."
Ash added: "It's been a long journey and it's great to finish on that."
The journey only gets longer from here.
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