When Texas releases its depth chart for Wyoming next week, David Ash, not Case McCoy, will be listed as the Longhorn starter at quarterback. The Texas quarterbacks were informed Tuesday afternoon of the decision.
Ash was thrown into the fire as a true freshman, despite not receiving many repetitions in the spring, summer and early fall. But when Garrett Gilbert faltered in Week Two, Ash and McCoy teamed up to pilot the Texas offense the rest of the season. Ash completed 99-of-174 passes (56.9 percent) for 1,079 yards and four touchdowns to eight interceptions. He finished the year on a high note, winning the Holiday Bowl's Offensive MVP award.
So what exactly does that decision mean? Haven't the Longhorns talked all along about a two quarterback split? Well, yes and no. Texas coach Mack Brown and Longhorn offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin both have said repeatedly that the Longhorns will play two. But Harsin clarified those comments Monday when he noted that it wouldn't be a straight 50-50 split, or even a 60-40 split.
So what exactly does that mean? The analogy that I would make is probably something like what we saw a few years ago when Brad Smith was the main quarterback, and a senior, at Missouri. Gary Pinkel wanted to get repetitions for his backup, then-freshman Chase Daniel, in case Daniel was needed. And so Daniel would take the occasional series (one every three or four, it seemed) so he could actually get some real, meaningful game time (read: not handing the ball off while up 30). It paid off big-time for the Tigers when Daniel won them a game against Iowa State later in the year, and then again when Daniel hit the ground running as a sophomore, likely in part due to his previous experience.
While Texas doesn't have the parallel of trying to get a young quarterback ready, the Longhorns do have the oft-cited desire to develop a backup quarterback with the relevant experience necessary to pull out a tough situation if needed. And McCoy has that: he started three road wins against bowl teams a year ago — UCLA, Iowa State and Texas A&M.
But at the same time, that experience can atrophy, and a player can get rusty if he isn't used. And that seems to be the primary goal at this point: have a No. 1 quarterback, sure, who gets most of the reps. But also develop a No. 2 quarterback who can step in without a hitch if needed due to either injury or ineffectiveness.
So don't expect the Longhorns to shotgun quarterbacks in and out like last year. That's the good news. But don't be surprised to see McCoy get some formative snaps in early-to-mid-game situations, either.
Like any other school, the Longhorns need to have a strong No. 1 at the quarterback position. But they've also been in enough situations where an injury to No. 1 (or simple ineffectiveness) cost the Longhorns a chance at a national title. That's why Texas is grooming two, though Tuesday, the Longhorns decided on their one.