Most indispensable player: Texas

Since last week, we’ve been examining the most indispensable player for every team in the Big 12. In other words, who is the player each team could least afford to lose to injury?

We’re knocking on wood before we turn in these posts, so no need to worry about a jinx.

We continue with the Texas Longhorns.

Most indispensable player: Quarterback David Ash

With a healthy Ash, there’s no limit to what can happen during Charlie Strong’s first season. Good and bad.

At one point, USC transfer Max Wittek joining the Longhorns was considered a given. Now, with Wittek likely headed elsewhere, the spotlight on Ash’s health turns up a notch.

Ash is the lone experienced quarterback on the roster, and he has shown the ability to win big games for the Longhorns during his three years in Austin, Texas. The junior will enter the season with a 63.2 completion percentage, 4,538 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 18 interceptions while starting 21 of 28 career games. That level of experience is hard to duplicate.

In 2012, when Ash started 12 games, the Longhorns went 9-3 with him under center. An injury-riddled 2013 has made it easy to forget Ash’s upside, but he was coming off a strong sophomore campaign and, if he can remain healthy, he could become the key playmaker in UT’s offense.

The inexperience behind him makes Ash’s health even more important. UT has two talented options in Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard, but this fall isn’t the time for the Longhorns to deal with the ups and downs that come with inexperience. Swoopes remains relatively raw, and Heard could use some time to get used to the demands of college football.

Disappointment has become all too common in Austin, so Strong’s squad needs to win now. And Ash has the proven ability to help make Strong’s first season a success.