Dear David Ash,
We're sorry — from the bottom of our hearts. We Texas Longhorn fans are not known for our patience, and the quarterback bar has been set pretty high. So it is with much humility that we offer you our most sincere apologies for not believing in you.
Congratulations are in order, too. You've joined elite company as one of only four quarterbacks in Texas history to throw for over 300 yards in consecutive games and you are one of three Texas quarterbacks to throw for over 1000 yards in the first four games of the season (not even Vince or Colt accomplished that, the other two are named Major and James Brown). Those numbers speak volumes for your talent, but it's the immeasurables that give you the edge.
Early this season you were written off by many of us as a competent player whose main job was to hand off the ball to Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray — and then stay out of the way. And for God's sake don't go throwing the ball all over the field!
We expected you to be quiet and let the veterans lead this team. Well, you've walked quietly in public, but you are clearly carrying a big stick when it comes to leadership of the team. You are leading this offense with your confidence, poise and, most obviously, your ability to win a close game.
Sure, it would be great to see you nail Mike Davis or Marquis Grissom in stride 50 yards downfield. We have every confidence that will come. But if you keep completing 78 percent of your passes (No. 2 in the country), and if you keep avoiding interceptions, no one will care, because all you'll do is keep winning.
Here's a tip we bet you've heard before — Mack Brown might have said it to you today: Don't go letting all these kudos climb into your head. We know you can't open an article without reading about how you are the second leading quarterback in the country with an unbelievable 184 passing efficiency, or how you've been named to all the major award watch lists. Well, except for one really, but the guy leading that contest is coming to your house Saturday night. Just keep playing your even-keeled game and you'll be fine.
Geno Smith is your nemesis now. You are No. 2 because he is No. 1 in nearly every category. How cool is this? We fans get to watch the first and second ranked quarterbacks in the country lead two of the top offenses in the country!
And we have every confidence that you can score on these West Virginia Mountaineers, particularly against their porous defensive secondary that has given up over 300 yards passing to Marshall (428), Maryland (305) and Baylor (581). The Mountaineer defense gave up 63 points to Baylor last week. Hell, they gave up 34 points to lowly Marshall and 12 to James Madison! You can score on these guys.
Speaking of defense, we wonder if you could do something for us. Could you walk across the hall and have a little chat with our defense? We're pretty sure winning this game against the Mountaineers will require a little more, um, shall we say, "effort" from the Longhorn defense than we've seen so far this year.
Our defensive backs will need to be on their game. As you know, West Virginia has really fast little receivers who manage to run under those magnificent Geno Smith passes. You've got the offense fired up; maybe you can do the same for the Texas D.
These Mountaineers haven't really played a decent defense yet this year, so if Texas' defense shows up big and manages to avoid giving up too many big plays — it would help if they occasionally tackled someone, too — we win.
Dude, you are getting it done and you have shown the maturity it takes to lead the Longhorns to a championship. On Saturday night you enter a big national stage playing against the Heisman front-runner. Make us proud, young man. You've proven you deserve our respect as a quarterback and as a leader. West Virginia fans may be screaming "He-is-the-man" to Geno Smith, but we see all of that potential in you too. Go be the man.
With highest regards,
Texas Longhorn fans
What to watch for
There is no secret sauce to winning this game against West Virginia. If Texas plays solid defense and continues its excellent offensive output, avoiding turnovers, they will win.
Texas tackling and big plays: The Texas defense has shown no ability to stop the big play. They've been burned on the ground and through the air. The Longhorns must play their best defensive game of the year if they expect to win.
- Win time of possession: Texas beat OSU last week because they held the ball so long. The Horns ran 80 plays against OSU's 67 and held the ball over 36 minutes. A team can't score if their offense is on the bench. Texas is fifth in the nation in time of possession, they need it this weekend.
- Avoid turnovers, steal the ball: It seems so obvious but here's a stat for you straight from Mack Brown, "We've won 58 straight games when winning the turnover battle. When you start talking about differences other than the score, that shows the difference right there. You've got to win the turnover battle."
No. 11 Texas Longhorns vs. No. 8 West Virginia Mountaineers
Time: 6:00 p.m. at Darrell K. Royal — Texas Memorial Stadium
Radio: KVET-FM 98.1 / KVET-AM 1300
Honored: Legendary women's basketball coach Jody Conradt had her statue unveiled Friday at the Frank Erwin Center.