Habe on the Horns
By Steve Habel/Associate Editor
The assembled media was even stunned Monday when, gathered for Texas coach Charlie Strong’s weekly press conference, they were told that Longhorns’ quarterback David Ash would not play this Saturday against BYU after being concussed again during the Horns’ 38-7 win over North Texas on Aug. 30.
The news came unexpectedly because Ash played virtually the whole game and with relative success, hitting on 19 of his 34 throws for 190 yards and one TD and rushing seven times including a bootleg run for a touchdown. There was no indication that Ash had become re-injured.
According to Strong, Ash called the Texas staff in the wee hours of Aug. 30 – the victory over North Texas didn’t finish until after 10 p.m. – and said he had headaches and dizziness. The training staff had him come back to the facility for an evaluation.
Strong said Ash told the UT training staff that the injury could have occurred as early in the North Texas game as on the very first hit he took in the first quarter, when he had to dive to recover a bobbled snap and got hit on a shoulder-to-shoulder tackle. Ash played up until the Horns’ final possession with the injury or without knowing he was hurt.
“I talked to David early in the game and asked him if he was alright and he told me ‘yes, I like it, coach. I’m really into it,’” Strong said. “If he was having an issue with it during the game I think he would have said it, but he never did.”
Texas’ media relations staff confirmed that Ash did not have concussion symptoms during the game but was stricken afterward.
Given the status of the Texas quarterback situation, the news of Ash’s concussion recurrence hit the Horns’ program hard. Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes, who played sparingly last season, steps into the breach as the starter against BYU and likely for the rest of the season.
"We can function," Strong said. "It's not like it's the end of the world. We know we've got to go play a football game, and that's what we're going to go do."
True freshman Jerrod Heard, the only other quarterback on scholarship on the 40 Acres, stands one play away from going under center if Swoopes gets injured.
“I have total confidence in Tyrone and his role with this team,” Strong said. “It’s our job to get Tyrone ready to play and give him the tools he needs to succeed and help this team win. We have a football team and we have to go play. Each week, a different player has to step up. The challenge now for this team is to go respond.”
Strong said that the Texas offensive staff would “tweak” the plan of attack to work with Swoopes’ strengths and would focus on getting Heard some reps in practice. “Things have to move quickly for Jerrod,” Strong admitted.
Before Ash’s injury, the Horns were a team that was going to win or lose with its defense. Now that is even more the case and begs to ask “does Case McCoy have any eligibility remaining?”
Other Notes from the Monday presser:
The Horns lost starting center Dominic Espinosa, another one of its offensive leaders, after he broke his right ankle against North Texas. Espinosa has surgery scheduled for Sept. 3 and no timetable for his return has been determined.
Desmond Harrison has been reinstated to the team and will start at right tackle Saturday against BYU. Two other UT players who were suspended for the North Texas game – wide receiver Daje Johnson and safety Josh Turner – have still not been reinstated and will miss the BYU game.
Lost in all the injury news was the stellar play of the Texas defense, even though the Horns played an inexperienced offensive team in North Texas. The North Texas offense never advanced into the red zone and did not convert a third-down until early in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game. UNT averaged 1.8 yards on 43 rushing attempts and its longest play was just eight yards.