Texas wrapped up spring drills on Saturday night with its annual Orange-White game in front of roughly 10,000 fans at Darrell K Royal Texas-Memorial Stadium.
For the most part, the first-team offense and the second-team defense were pitted against the first-team defense and the second-team offense, but the most important takeaway from the game was the play of quarterback David Ash.
US PRESSWIREDavid Ash and the Texas offense are still a work in progress.
And for the Longhorns, questions still abound at a position that needs stability if Mack Brown's squad has any chance at a Big 12 title next fall.
While any performance in a spring game should be taken with a grain of salt, Ash made a few mistakes on Saturday night to conclude what had been a very strong spring. Protecting the football was one of the areas where Ash had seemed to improve upon during the first 14 practices, but things unraveled a bit in the spring showcase.
After leading productive drives and completing 14 of 16 passes for 130 yards with two touchdowns, Ash struggled in the two-minute drill to end the first half. He tossed an interception to Jordan Hicks on a shovel pass while under pressure and followed that up with a pick to safety Adrian Colbert on a tipped ball when he tried to force a big play down the field.
While some credit should be given to the Longhorns' defense, there's no question that the coaching staff would have preferred to see Ash end spring drills with a more crisp performance, especially because he seemed to carry the momentum from the fourth quarter of the team's Alamo Bowl win against Oregon State into spring practice. Ash finished the spring game 17 of 24 passing for 162 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown pass to Mike Davis and a 24-yarder to Kendall Sanders.
However, while Ash's performance wasn't outstanding in the two-minute drill, the up-tempo offense that the staff wanted to implement was evident, although it certainly was not mistaken for some of the high-octane offenses we are used to seeing across the country on Saturday afternoons. But play calls were made quickly and the quarterbacks were able to execute plays in no-huddle situations. And the expectation is that the communication across the entire offense will improve in preseason camp.
We know that Ash can complete the high-percentage throws and is very good at using his legs to pick up chunks of yardage following a fake handoff on the zone read. But his two-minute struggles Saturday night, coupled with his propensity to toss red-zone interceptions last fall, remain a concern for a Texas team entering a possible make-or-break campaign for its head coach.
Ash has a strong hold on the starting job, but there's no question that coordinator Major Applewhite has a lot of work to do leading up to his first full season as the team's play caller.
Other spring game notes
Early enrollee freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes stole the show, as the dual-threat shined in the first half. Despite only playing one series, he displayed his athleticism against the first-team defense, rushing for 21 yards on one play after evading pressure and hitting the edge. On another play, he scrambled for seven yards when his initial read wasn't open. Ultimately, Swoopes led a scoring drive after Case McCoy was unable to in his first two chances. Brown said after the game that Swoopes has a chance to play in 2013 because he is No. 3 on the depth chart, ahead of 2012 recruit Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet.