Ash gives Longhorns a brand-new look

David Ash completed just 57 percent of his passes as a wide-eyed true freshman in 2011. He compounded his problems by outweighing his four touchdowns with eight interceptions.

This was Garrett Gilbert's team through all the offseason leading up to 2011. Ash was the true freshman who was better than expected but not good enough to get more than four snaps in Texas' spring game last season.

By the end of 2011, it was clear that Texas was Ash's team, but he looked wholly unprepared to shoulder the load and lead the way. And now? After what Ash did to Ole Miss? The stat sheet tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

Ash is one of just three Big 12 quarterbacks (Heisman front-runner Geno Smith and TCU's Casey Pachall) without an interception, and he's been good enough to add seven touchdown passes, including four in Texas' 66-31 rout of Ole Miss.

He's also completing 76 percent of his passes this time around, including 83 percent on Saturday night. His 326 yards were the second consecutive game in which Ash set a career high for passing yardage, too.

Scoff at the opponents (Ole Miss and New Mexico won a combined three games in 2011), but Ash has Texas looking more and more like it's ready to return to a spot among the nation's elite. He doesn't need to complete 76 percent of his passes every night. He can throw a pick or two. But he's been good, and far better than he needs to be for Texas to improve on its eight-win season a year ago. For now, as long as Ash is stringing together completions (he hit on 15 consecutive passes on Saturday), defenses will soften up for a powerful running game with a revolving door of backs who will always have fresh legs.

When that happens, a defense that's led the Big 12 in total defense four years running gets more leeway it doesn't necessarily need.

Add that all up, and you get a scary proposition for the rest of the Big 12: Texas beginning to put together the pieces that comprise a return to a college football juggernaut.