It had been All Quiet on the Western Front (just west of the war-torn hellscape of Arlington, in this instance) since the Longhorns' Sunday/Monday meetings with TCU Co-OC Sonny Cumbie. Until a few minutes ago:
With Cumbie officially out of the mix, the OC search swiftly turned to Tulsa's Sterlin Gilbert. There had been rumors of back-channel communication with Gilbert for some time, and that seems to have been pretty well borne out by the fact that Gilbert has already been on campus interviewing as of this morning:
Reports: Tulsa co-OC Sterlin Gilbert in Austin visiting Texas https://t.co/rKnQdIpWW3— SB Nation College (@sbncollege) December 9, 2015
Gilbert came up through the Texas high school coaching ranks (with stops at Springtown, Abilene Cooper, San Angelo and Temple) and intersected with Art Briles at U of H in the early 2000's. He re-integrated himself with the Briles Coaching Tree at Eastern Illinois under former Baylor Assistant Dino Babers, where he served as OC and quarterbacks coach for Walter Payton Award Winner Jimmy Garoppolo. Following a year with Babers at Bowling Green, Gilbert joined ex-Baylor assistant Phil Montgomery at Tulsa, where he served as co-OC this season.
If you like the Art Briles style of offense, Gilbert is the #1 practitioner currently available on the OC market.
And there's a lot to like about the Art Briles style of offense.
There'll be plenty more to come on Gilbert's specific work over the past few seasons if and when he signs on the line that is dotted, but the broad-strokes positives of the Briles offense for Texas include:
- A potent power-running component featuring gap schemes and pulling guards/tackles (Patrick Vahe and Connor Williams were born to kill it in this scheme, and 35+ carries a game from a Foreman/Warren combo means dirty things in The Land of the 220-Pound Linebacker)
- The ability to easily feature the legs of a dual-threat QB without needing to rely on 10+ carries a game from the position (probably the best scheme out there to adapt to a Swoopes/Heard/Buechele/Ehlinger pipeline)
- Plenty of easy aerial candy available through screens and RPOs (SOMEONE has to be able to hit these throws, right? RIGHT?!?!?!)
- Score-from-anywhere punch facilitated by spacing and a ton of one-on-one opportunities downfield (John Burt and Collin Johnson will be pure hell on the edges)
There's not an immediate like-a-glove fit with the QBs Texas currently has on campus, but that was going to be true to an extent with any system other than "Run Swoopes like Nick Marshall 20 times a game and hope he doesn't yak on his play-action bombs." The combined twelve inches between Swoopes' and Jerrod Heard's ears are a crucial and un-knowable quantity heading into 2016, and Heard's fair-to-middlin' arm strength isn't an ideal match for a system whose wide splits and downfield emphasis call for plenty of pure zip-n-rip. The Longhorns are reportedly in the mix for a couple of JUCO signal-callers, so it's likely that The Sorting Hat will get a real workout in the Spring and Summer before Texas' 2016 destiny at the position gets locked down.
We'll keep things updated here as developments develop.