He's actually extremely good, based on the stats. That is, at least when he is not bad.
If you ignore the OU, Kansas, and TCU games, David Ash’s stats over the other 9 games he played are:
Completion rate: 72.6%
Yds/Attempt: 9.6 yds
Yds/Rush: 3.6 yds
Pass yards/Gm: 269
Run yards/Gm: 15
Passing TDs: 19
Rush TDs: 2
Games with a comp over 40 yds: 7
He did this pretty efficiently over those 9 games, throwing only 28 attempts/game. He had a passer rating of 153 for the year, and that includes his 3 bad games.
Of course those 3 games happened, but I’ve never seen a supporting cast implode more than this offense did against OU, he was still somewhat injured in Kansas game (and the play-calling was uber-conservative), and he aggravated an injury early on in the TCU game. Some will say that these are ultimately just excuses, but, at the end of the day, he was still an underclassman. Even Colt had really bad games his soph year, and that was actually his 3rd year in the program.
Analyzing his season apart from statistics, he improved at least as much as anybody expected him to improve in most areas, most importantly confidence, decision-making, and leadership. He even showed the ability to make big plays in a couple of crucial clutch situations last year. Reports out of practices this year is that he is continuing to progress in those areas. His deep-ball accuracy was just a little bit off on a lot of throws last year, so it is not unreasonable to expect him to hit more of those as a junior. Also, he has all but one receiver returning, and he seems to be developing excellent chemistry with several. Overall, I think most rational observers agree that he hasn't hit his ceiling yet, physically, and the other "intangibles" seem to be on a good trajectory, even if they remain cautious in projecting his future career.
He’s definitely not Vince or Colt, not yet at least, but he was a pretty darn good QB in those 9 games, and I think it is safe to be optimistic about the future.
Returning Big 12 QBs:
- Trevone Boykin wasn't a good passer last year. 57%, 7 YPA, 126 passer rating. He actually wasn't even that great of a runner (3.3 avg, 3 TDs, 45 yds/game). He wasn't a world-beater against us, and that was his best game on the ground. Of course, he was just a freshman, but he also redshirted before that.
- JW Walsh's stats were really good actually. Overall, they were pretty comparable to Ash's 9 good games. Lower completion %, same YPA, not many INTs, and better running stats (5.8 avg, 7 TDs) over approx. 6-7 games. If Ash doesn't end up being the best QB in the conference this year, Walsh is the best candidate to claim that title. That is, if he even starts.
- The other 2 OSU QBs had decent seasons, but I'd be a little surprised if Walsh didn't start (although I'm not very well informed). Wes Lunt's accuracy was alright (60%), and he struggled with INTs when he played. His passer rating was 137. Clint Chelf was pretty good, but his completion % was also only 60%. His passer rating was 147, and he was also a decent runner when he actually ran. Walsh looked the best, according to the numbers at least.
- Blake Bell is still an unknown. We know that he can throw a football, and that he is a hammer in short-yardage, heavy-running situations, with 60 carries, 3.3 YPC, and 11 TDs last season. We also know that OU likes to throw the ball a lot, and he only has 10 comp on 20 attempts in 2 years. Who knows.
- Casey Pachall (who knows what will happen with him this year) had incredible stats through four games this past year, but that was against really, really bad competition. His stats the year before (158 passer rating as a 3rd-year sophomore) were somewhat better than Ash's over 12 games, and somewhat worse than Ash's over the 9 good games. It was also against MWC competition (they weren't in the Big 12 yet). He also does a lot of drugs.
Graduating Big 12 QBs last year (who mattered):
- Landry Jones's stats were actually a little worse than Ash's overall stats (if you account for the fact that he threw 50% more attempts/game). Landry's stats were much worse than Ash's stats in the 9 good games.
- Geno Smith definitely had a better season than Ash, but he also might be the #1 pick in the draft. His completion % was about the same as Ash's 9-game stats, and his YPA was lower. The real place he excelled was his TD:INT ratio. 42:6 is pretty unreal (although I suppose Ash's 9-game ratio of 19:2 compares relatively favorably). His passer rating for the year was 163. But his Junior and Soph passer ratings were 152 and 145 respectively. Ash actually surpassed both of those numbers this year, even including his terrible games. That's not a bad trajectory as a 2nd-year sophomore. Ash's running numbers were actually slightly better, considering Smith had a lower YPC avg.
- Nick Florence's stats were about the same as Ash's over these 9 games. Florence had a surprisingly low completion rate (61.6%) for a Baylor QB, but he still had a high YPA (9.3). His passer rating for the season (157) was actually only a few ticks above Ash's passer rating for the season, including Ash's 3 bad games.
- Seth Doege's stats were about as good as Ash's over the course of the entire season (both had a 153 passer rating for the year), but Doege was a senior. Ash's good 9 games were much better.
- Collin Klein is tough to compare. Ash was clearly the better passer, especially over his good 9 games. But Klein was pretty good (144 passer rating, 65%, 8.7 YPA). Of course Klein was a dominant force running the football. Over the past 2 seasons, he averaged 250 carries, 1000 yds, 4 YPC, and 25 TDs each season. He's really hard to compare to Ash.