Big 12 Sports Articles

Can Sterlin Gilbert, Matt Mattox save the Longhorns offense?

On Dec. 12, Texas officially named Sterlin Gilbert the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, and Matt Mattox the new offensive line coach and run-game coordinator. The two hail from Tulsa, and after a week of signing drama that only the University of Texas Athletics Department can bring, they are ready to get started.

For the past two seasons, Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline have done a lot of nothing for the Texas offense. To be honest, I am surprised it took Texas this long to get rid of them. Watson and Wickline had completely different plans for the quarterbacks and offensive line. The two were never really in sync and the only thing they had in common was that they had a mutual friend in head coach Charlie Strong.

But, these new coaches are definitely on the same page and practically attached at the hip. Gilbert and Mattox, who were reportedly a packaged deal, have been coaching together for the past three seasons at three different schools: Eastern Illinois, Bowling Green and Tulsa.

It’s important to note that although Gilbert was not Charlie Strong’s first choice, he brings a lot of game-changing elements to a lagging Texas team. First of all, Gilbert is familiar with an up-tempo spread offense and comes with a knowledge of Art Briles’ offensive system. Gilbert worked with Briles at Houston in 2005 and then worked under Dino Babers, who also worked for Briles, in 2012.

Gilbert is also known for being able to develop elite quarterbacks. Gilbert helped turn Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo into a second-round NFL draft pick. Garoppolo’s numbers improved each year he worked with Gilbert. And, speaking of quarterbacks, Gilbert is willing to do whatever it takes to have a successful offense. Gilbert told the media he would undoubtedly be willing to start a true freshman quarterback if he was the best person for the position. Hello, Shane Buechele. That means Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes have big improvements to make if they want to start in the fall.

Gilbert also brings his ability to recruit Texas high school players to Charlie Strong’s team. Strong did not have the same relationship with high school coaches as Mack Brown did, and that definitely hurt his recruiting process. Gilbert was both a high school player and a coach in Texas, so he has deep ties to the Lone Star State.

At the end of the day, Gilbert and Mattox know they have a huge challenge ahead of them. This job is entirely based on results, and they are well aware of that fact. Both coaches entered their welcoming press conferences with intensity and seriousness. It’s not about being well liked by the media. It’s about getting wins for the Texas Longhorns football team.

Will they mesh well with a beaten down 5-7 Texas team? I think so. And if not… well, then there might be an entirely new staff in Austin in 2017.

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