Is David Ash an elite quarterback?
As a sophomore, Ash completed 67 percent of his passes and ranked 21st nationally in passing efficiency, but also put up poor games against Oklahoma, Kansas and TCU (when he had broken ribs). That led some to point to 2013 as a likely strong season for the now-junior signal caller, with Heisman expert Chris Huston of Heisman Pundit tapping Ash as a dark horse Heisman candidate.
So far — and yes, I realize that it's one game in — Ash has put up those kinds of numbers. Not only does he rank fifth in the country in total offense after putting up 434 yards, but he also is ninth nationally in passing efficiency with a rating of 207.2.
But perhaps most importantly, Ash's performance has convinced his teammates that he's an elite quarterback. Here's Mike Davis, when asked about how this year's team is different than the 2011 squad that took on BYU in that season's second game.
"We are more mature and older," Davis said. "David Ash is phenomenal; he is in control and I think he is an elite quarterback."
Davis went on to talk about the offensive line and a team as a whole getting better, but for the Longhorns' 2013 hopes, the piece on Ash might be the most important part.
Overall, Davis is high on the offense
When Davis was asked about the Longhorns being able to put up 715 yards despite a slow start, he said "with this offense, I feel like the sky is the limit."
"I was able to see that and within 30 minutes that we can come back and score quickly," Davis said. "This offense is very promising."
At the same time, receiver mate Jaxon Shipley said it was important to get off to a quicker start from here on out.
"Obviously that's something that can't happen," Shipley said of the slow start. "I don't know if it was just first-game jitters or whatever, but the second half we came out and played really well. This game [against BYU], what we're really trying to work on is getting a fast start. That's something that we work on in practice. If we can go ahead and score that first drive and just get the momentum going, I think that will help us in the long run."
Longhorns prepping for a physical game
BYU was No. 3 in the nation in total defense a year ago, and with the Longhorns coming off a record-setting offensive performance, this is where the proverbial immovable object meets an unstoppable force.
"BYU has a great defense," said tailback Johnathan Gray. "They have a couple of good linebackers and a couple down players. We can prepare for those guys, and it's going to be a cage match as we all have it in our heads. We're just getting ready to prepare for those guys."
What does Gray mean when he calls it a cage match?
"BYU is an older defense, so those guys know what to do," Gray said. "They are fundamentally sound, they don't miss a lot of tackles, and they come and hit you in the mouth. We're getting prepared for those guys and doing anything we can to go up against them and be prepared for the defense."
"He's a big back. He's strong so we are going to have to bring it on him," Hicks said. "But the game plan is never changed. It is always stop the run first and then get after the quarterback. So when we can stop him, let's get after the quarterback and he is obviously a running guy, which defenses really don't mind because he is putting himself in those positions to really get hit.
"That is one of our key goals after the game and during the game to attack the quarterback and as many times as he wants to put himself in that position we are going to try and do that," Hicks said.