A Tale of Two Passes

When talking about David Ash and Case McCoy's performances in the spring game, people are quick to point out two passes that each player threw.

For McCoy, those two throws indicate to many people why he should lag behind Ash in the quarterback battle. For Ash, removing his two plays would indicate that he didn't have the bright and sunny spring game that many were touting afterward. So in short, the two throws made by each player serves as an indicator that maybe we don't know as much about the quarterback position as we thought we did.

Here's McCoy's overall line: 8-of-14 for 132 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. In a spring where the coaching staff drove home a point about turnovers, it isn't hard to pick out the two throws people are focused on. McCoy's two picks weren't just bad … both of them were turnovers in the end zone, costing Texas a possible score.

Interestingly enough, both attempts were for Mike Davis. McCoy's first interception was a throw he never should have made. McCoy tried to burn a post route for Davis, but when he threw it, A.J. White had inside position, and there was no way it was going to be completed. Further, McCoy threw it so far inside that safety Leroy Scott, who was somewhat late for the party, actually appeared to be the intended receiver. Scott picked the throw off. The second decision wasn't bad, but the pass was underthrown. McCoy attempted to find Davis on a fade route, only to see the pass picked by cornerback Josh Turner.

For Ash, the two throws that people are focusing on were actually hugely positive plays. Ash completed 6-of-7 throws on the day for 87 yards and a touchdown to no interceptions. That's a quarterback rating of 237.3. There's only one problem: Ash's stats might have been a bit inflated by a pair of highly successful screen passes, plays that didn't require a ton of effort, or a downfield throw on his part.

The two screen plays were actually on back-to-back downs. On a second-and-14, Ash hit DeSean Hales on a tunnel screen for 21 yards, his longest completion of the day to that point. And on the very next play, a traditional screen to Jeremy Hills busted for 45 yards, eclipsing that play.

So Ash gained 66 yards on two easily completable screen passes that the receivers and downfield blockers created largely through their efforts. Take those two plays out, and Ash was 4-of-5 for 21 yards and a touchdown. So he went from averaging 14.5 yards per completion to 5.3 yards per completion.

Here's the thing: I've never been comfortable taking the best plays away from somebody for something like that. If you do that, you might as well take away their worst play or two. So here's what I noticed overall:

* David Ash seemed to have command of the offense, didn't make any mistakes, moved the ball and made the right decisions. He ran for a touchdown on a busted play, and threw a beautiful touchdown on a fade route that was only a 10-yard score, though the fade was caught in the back of the end zone, so it was really like a 19-or-so yard play. Still, I thought his best play was one where he didn't force a throw and instead ran for a first down. It was only a seven-yard gain (maybe it would have been a yard or two more in a full tackle situation), but more than that, it showed how he's developing as a decision-maker.

* Case McCoy not only threw the two picks, but he was thisclose to throwing a third pick, a pick six. McCoy threw an out route off his back foot (like he did in the Baylor game), and Carrington Byndom jumped it, only to drop the ball. McCoy did some nice things, too. He throws that seam route with great touch and created big plays with it. But throwing two interceptions (ironically, both were with the first team) will get you benched more quickly than not with this team.

After the spring game, Texas coaches said that they would need to go to see film, and that both quarterbacks did positive and negative things. And I think that's a good way to look at it. I'll say this: I think both quarterbacks are improved from a year ago. But I also think that one of the two is more improved than the other, and I think that player, Ash, will be the Texas starting quarterback in 2012, barring disaster.

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