Earlier this week, Texas announced that quarterback David Ash would miss the rest of the season to help recover form the symptoms he suffered earlier this year from a head injury. And while the Longhorns would love to have Ash available, co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite mentioned that the 'Horns aren't exactly strangers to preparing for life without Ash.
"That's been the situation all year, quite honestly, since week two or week three," Applewhite said. "That's been the situation all year so it doesn't change in terms of what we're doing."
Applewhite then talked about how important it was for Ash to heal up.
"Well, obviously the most important thing is that he's healthy," Applewhite said. "I remember telling him after the Kansas State game, 'The most important thing is that when you're my age, you're mentally healthy. So let's take care of your health first. Whatever that means – if that's one week, two weeks, two months, the season – let's just make sure that you're mentally healthy and fine and ready to go.'
"I wish we had him back," Applewhite said. "I'd love to have more depth at quarterback but that's not in the cards and we want to make sure we do what's best for the players. In terms of him getting his medical redshirt, I don't really know all the dynamics in terms of the NCAA and appealing for that and if he'll get that, but I hope it works out for him."
In the short term, that means that Texas will continue to ride senior Case McCoy. Applewhite said "there's always a chance" that Tyrone Swoopes will see the field on Thursday, but for the most part, it will be up to McCoy to handle the scrutiny of a team that was blasted in its last time out.
"He's still in the process of handling it," Applewhite said. "It's not over until his career is over. He's going to have ups and down in these next three games. That's just part of playing quarterback. I told him after the game on Sunday, 'Hey listen, I've been a part of those kind of games when you're not playing your best. Pick yourself up. Keep moving. You're 5-2 as a starter, we want to be 6-2. Let's just move forward. That's what we've got to do.'"
Applewhite mentioned that McCoy has already shown that kind of leadership, noting his favorite Case moment came against Oklahoma earlier this season.
"When he got his head torn off by Eric Striker after [Jaxon] Shipley caught the wheel route and then we tried to hurry up and quick snap it, make sure we got that play running in the Oklahoma game, and he got his head torn off, and he came right back," Applewhite said. "I actually thought he was going to be dazed and knocked out of the game. I thought I was going to have to put a true freshman in the first quarter of the OU game and he came right back and showed grit.
"I just told Case, 'Quarterback can be a very fun position to play,'" Applewhite said. "'There are going to be a lot of people around you that want to have a piece of the action and be a celebrity and all the garbage that comes with it. At the same time, it can be very lonely too.'
"When you throw two, three, four, five, I've had six turnovers out there, all of the sudden; it's the quarterback's fault. That's part of the deal," Applewhite continued. "That's part of playing that position. You won't understand it unless you have played it and that's just part of it. You've got to revel in that kind of pressure and that strain and understand there are good things ahead. You keep competing, and it develops toughness. I think he's a tough kid, a real tough kid."
McCoy noted that this week's opponent, Texas Tech, also wasn't coming off a win.
"Texas Tech isn't feeling very good about themselves coming off a loss," Applewhite said. "We're not feeling very good about ourselves coming off a loss. Each team has to go out there and correct their own mistakes whether it's turnovers, inability to stop somebody, inability to run the ball, inability to pass the ball. Whatever the issues are, it's going to come down to who prepares themselves to play on Thursday night, who takes care of the football and who wins the crucial situations, red zone and third downs."