Tom Herman did a complete overhaul of the Texas staff, leaving the coaches from the previous regime to find new jobs. Several landed with Charlie Strong at South Florida, including former Longhorns play-caller Sterlin Gilbert.
Like Strong, Herman brought some pieces of his old staff with him to his new job — defensive guru Todd Orlando being the biggest. While a clean break from the Strong era made sense for Texas, these moves create some interesting storylines heading into the 2017 season.
In a recent ranking of the best coordinator hires of the offseason, Collin Becht from Sports Illustrated included both Orlando and Gilbert. That’s sure to give Texas fans at least a little pause. Click here to see the full rankings.
Here’s part of what Becht had to say about the hire of Orlando, who landed at No. 5 on the list:
Herman garnered plenty of acclaim for his work with Greg Ward Jr. and the Cougars’ offense, but Orlando’s work with the defense was equally praiseworthy. He stymied Oklahoma and Louisville for Houston’s two marquee wins last season, including a dominant 11-sack performance against the Cardinals and Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson.
And here’s what he said about Gilbert, who is No. 7:
With Gilbert and star running back D’Onta Foreman, Texas put together a solid offense for most of the season until the bottom fell out in losses to Kansas and TCU to close the year. Gilbert now gets the much simpler task of maintaining an already potent offense at South Florida.
Gilbert and Orlando obviously coach different sides of the ball, so it won’t be a straight swap for Orlando walking into Gilbert’s old stomping grounds. The new Texas defensive coordinator might have a tougher time from the start, though, since he is implementing a new system with a group that has struggled to produce. Statistically, the 2015 and 2016 Texas defenses were two of the worst in program history.
The situation is much different in Tampa, where Gilbert takes his up-tempo scheme to an already high-powered attack. Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers was one of the best quarterbacks in the Group of Five last year on a team that scored 43.8 points per game.
Noticeably missing from Sports Illustrated’s list is the man Herman hired to replace Gilbert, former Ohio State offensive coordinator Tim Beck. The Buckeyes advanced to the College Football Playoff in 2016, but Beck’s offense fell flat against eventual national champion Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl.
It’s hard to say how much that 31-0 shutout has affected Beck’s national perception, but it is worth noting that his replacement — former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson — made No. 1 on Becht’s list.
All of which to say: It’s March 1 and we’re dissecting coordinator hires. Who’s ready for spring football?
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