AUSTIN (AP) – All signs at the end of the 2011 season pointed to sophomore David Ash being the Texas Longhorns’ starting quarterback in 2012.

Coach Mack Brown still won’t say it.

Texas opened spring practice Thursday and Brown said he and his staff remained committed to developing two quarterbacks to lead the team. He carefully avoided any direct link between Ash and the starting job.

Ash and junior Case McCoy, who split the starting job with Ash over the final 11 games last season, will continue to battle it out in the spring, Brown said.

“The message to those guys is like it is to everybody else: We don’t care who’s ahead, we need two. We’re not going to get into who walks out first today,” Brown said.

Both struggled last season when Texas went 8-5 and finished with a losing record in the Big 12 for the second year in a row.

McCoy went 3-2 as a starter and rallied Texas to a last-second win over rival Texas A&M in the final game in that century-old rivalry. But the week after that game, he committed five turnovers in a loss at Baylor.

Ash was 3-3 as a starter and appeared to have taken over the role when he played the entire game in Texas’ Holiday Bowl win over California. Ash was named the most valuable player of the game after passing for one touchdown, catching another and not committing any turnovers.

Ash should get a confidence boost from that victory, Brown said, but then he added: “What we’d like to see is both those quarterbacks take over the team and lead them … let’s just play.”

Any separation between them will be determined by which quarterback leads the team to touchdowns and doesn’t’ turn the ball over, Brown said.

Improving a passing game that ranked 86th nationally is key to pushing the Longhorns back into contention for the Big 12 title and chasing a national championship, Brown said.

“I’d like us to have a passing game where we can throw anytime we want, anywhere we want,” Brown said.

The Longhorns wrap up spring practice with their annual scrimmage on April 1. Texas opens the 2012 season Sept. 1 at home against Wyoming.

“The expectation last year was to get us back on track,” Brown said. “Now the expectation is … we need to go back to the attitude where we’re going to win every game.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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