Jay Norvell's only full season calling plays was during 2007 at UCLA. The Bruins went 6-7 that season and the coaching staff was fired afterward.


Texas play-caller Jay Norvell: “We want to be known for something”

Posted September 15th, 2015

Story highlights
  • Norvell said he didn't know what Jerrod Heard could do until he got into a game
  • The playbook will shrink for Saturday's game against California
  • Marcus Johnson (ankle) is progressing and could be available

One week after he was promoted on Texas’ coaching staff, new play-caller Jay Norvell now has a clearer idea of the deficiencies he inherited.

The Longhorns have no identity, Norvell said Tuesday. He’s working to build one.

“You just can’t do everything and be good at everything,” he said. “We don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades offense. We want to be known for something.”


For now, they’re known for being the nation’s second-worst offense through two games. Norvell is charged with fixing it and acquitted himself well in his debut. Though Norvell got the chance to call just 38 plays, the Longhorns rolled to a 42-28 win over Rice.

“We have a bunch of individuals,” he said. “We don’t have a unit yet. We have some guys who need to put their personal agendas aside and sacrifice for the team.”

It sounds as if quarterback Tyrone Swoopes is not one of them. Norvell said that Swoopes, who lost his job to Jerrod Heard after 13 consecutive starts, “has been fabulous through this.”

Heard will make his second start Saturday when California comes to town.

Norvell said offensive coaches are “finding out very quickly” what Heard can and cannot do. He added that Heard, a terrific scrambler, was handcuffed by noncontact rules in practice, and therefore it took game situations before he could impress. Heard threw two long touchdown passes and ran for 96 yards. In Norvell’s mind, Heard’s 35-yard run on the opening drive “changed our whole team — offense, defense, everybody.” 

“His skills don’t really show up until game day,” Norvell said. “They don’t show up in practice where it’s not live and you can’t tackle.”

Norvell said that the problem coming out of training camp was a playbook that was too thick. Against Notre Dame, the Longhorns totaled just three points and 163 yards, prompting the switch to Norvell from Shawn Watson.

“You can’t run everything and know all those answers,” Norvell said. “There were about half as many plays in the game plan against Rice than we had against Notre Dame. We probably have too many now. We should probably cut it down some more.”

Short yards: Norvell said wide receiver Marcus Johnson (ankle) is getting better and “we’re hopeful he’ll play this weekend.” … Norvell warned his running backs that if they want more carries, they need to have more success and get first downs. … Norvell dodged a question about seeking the position full time. “I got the job today, so that’s all I’m concerned about.”